Galaxy Quest is a movie whose premise is born of a lot of cold drinks. Imagine the scene, a Tiki Bar in LA, a couple of jobbing screenwriters have had too many shots of tequila are annoyed by a bunch of bumbling Trekkies (I know) in full Kilngon outfit sniggering over a beer.
“Wouldn’t it be funny if like they were really aliens.”
“Yeah, and imagine if they were such big fans that they thought that Captain Kirk really existed.”
“And they kidnapped him to help them in an alien space war.”
Perhaps this is where this conversations should have ended. I am glad it didn’t though, because Galaxy Quest is a whole mess of fun. It is a whole mess too, but that is less important. Tim Allen is not sure if he is playing William Shatner playing Buzz Lightyear but it is about the only time he has been well cast. The satire is slight, on Star Trek, on 60’s TV and on the idea of obsessive fandom – but it also never forgets that it is an adventure movie, albeit a very silly one. Cleverly the knowingness that comes from the situation is internalised, the actors realise they can be crew just by doing what they did on screen. There is also yet another terrific turn from Tony Shaloub, not to mention Sam Rockwell’s as the nervous anonymous crewman who knows that in the rules laid down by the series he has to die.
Galaxy Quest might have been better as the final hurrah for the Star Trek team, but possibly like Wes Craven’s New Nightmare the identification between character and actor is just too late (we know Kirk, do we really know Shatner?). We have never seen an episode of the Galaxy Quest TV series, we just know it is mainly Star Trek (Alan Rickman makes a wonderfully po-faced mixture of Leaonard Ninoy and the appaled Alec Guinness post Star Wars). But in its denouement it also embraces the obsessive devotion. The fans save the day. It might be their only day in the sun, but its a funny one and one all that costume wearing, signature collecting and queuing up deserves.