Friday, July 3, 2009

Galaxy Quest

In one of the special features to one of the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg films (I do bring those two up a lot, don't they?), they mention that their parody is out of love, not out of derision, and that might be why it connects. They have a point, because in their films, you can tell they love the material, which allows people who also love the films they mock get in there and enjoy it just as much. Which brings me to Galaxy Quest, a Star Trek parody, which is also made out of love, and also happens to work.

I say Star Trek parody, but it's not simply a parody of the series, but the strange obsession that comes with it. Tim Allen is William Shatner, errr...the arrogant, scene-stealing captain, Alan Rickman is the second in command who believes the whole thing is beneath him, Tony Shaloub seems kinda stoned, and Sam Rockwell thinks he's the obligatory redshirt. Sigourney Weaver is the token hot chick and Daryl Mitchell is the token black guy. Together, they go to conventions and visit obsessive fans, and quietly beginning to dislike each other and their lack of career.

Suddenly, some childlike aliens don't understand that it's a TV series and believe that it's all real, so they take everyone off to space. The collection of washed up actors have to go save them, and discover that they're just like their characters after all, and they save the day, and everyone is happy.

People who are Trek fans will recognize the silly psuedoscience, the stock characters, the silly writing, the ship based on goofy writing before logical design, and the various clashing personalities, and the sheer arrogance of the captain. Moments are pulled from Trek lore and legend, which make the characters familiar and amuse the fans. People who aren't fans can appreciate it anyway, because it's an entertaining piece of science fiction, with good action and a funny script. It works simply as a movie, but for fans of the parodied material, it works on another level.

It also helps that the cast is fantastic. Tim Allen is somewhat underrated as an actor. I'm not sure if he's necessarily versatile, but his slightly arrogant actor/captain is perfect. Everyone else is believably sick of him, and they do function well as a unit that is generally sick of each other and their lack of success.

More than that, you can tell that the people behind it recognize the value of the series and what it means to people. Yes, there's something a little ridiculous about the production values, the scripts, the day being saved by ridiculous deus ex machina and really the whole thing. But the series is more than just a bunch of actors pretending to be in space. It means something, the values it presents are worthwhile, and by the end, you can recognize the value of series' like this, even if they might be silly to some eyes. Galaxy Quest is a highly amusing adventure, but it's also a good movie, and you know, it does mean something in the end.

Like all properly good parodies, it's a good movie full stop, but if you get the jokes, it becomes that much better.

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