Senior, geriatric, wrinkled, archaic, ancient, or Keith Richards; call it what you will, but once you start referring to things as classic, you know you’ve lived through more earthly rotations around the sun than you care to think about.
While I’m nowhere near the age of the skeletal remains owned by the aforementioned rock-star, I’m no longer what you would call a pup, and I’m pretty sure I’m no in the age demographic that networks and studios point and laugh at while they roll around in the money they earn from those half my age.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t prevent me from reminiscing the good old days when the entertainment industry catered to a younger outlaw, and reminiscing is what I did as I recently took in a special showing of the sci-fi comedy, Galaxy Quest.
I threw in the word special because the film was presented at the Arclight Theater in Hollywood, CA on the infamous dome theater. If that wasn’t enough to throw my hard earned dollars at, star Tim Allen and director Dean Parisot were also on hand to have a Q & A style session post flick. I won’t go into the gory details since I have posted links to the video Q&A I filmed directly below, but incredible and epic would be some excellent adjectives to describe the 30 minute exchange of words. There were some moments that were even funnier than the film itself. (Apologies for the dark video, but they kept the romantic theater mood lighting throughout the panel’s length.)
Use your ears, not your eyes.
This clip is only 8 minutes… unfortunately.
I was invited to the screening by Geddy’s Moon author John Mulhall and the same group of geeks that invited me to the Thor 2 premiere a few weeks prior. Apparently this is not a group that learns from its mistakes.
Despite being one of my favorite sci-films to grace the big screen, I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I watched Galaxy Quest before taking it in at the Arclight a few weeks ago. For what it’s worth, I also don’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning if that gives you any clue as to the condition of my memory these days. Seeing as the film was originally released WAY back in 1999, I think a brief synopsis is in order for those with severe memory displacement as well.
I miss the movie voice guy.
In the film, Galaxy Quest is a sci-fi series about a space exploring federation team that meets, greets, and often times does battle with aliens across the universe. If it sounds like I’m describing a certain franchise created by Gene Roddenbury, it’s because that’s the point. Galaxy Quest is a take on the Star Trek universe, right down to the general design and shape of the beloved Enterprise looking ship.
I cautiously describe it as a take and not a parody because Galaxy Quest’s intent is not to make light of Star Trek, or the genre in general, but instead to celebrate it and look at it from a more fish-out-of-water perspective.
After the viewer is introduced to the young attractive cast of the TV series, the film quickly fasts forwards to present day – 1999 at that time – where the show is cancelled and the semi-washed up main stars are doing cobbled-together conventions to cater to their diehard fan base and in turn pick up a few extra pay stubs .
On the subject of conventions, being an avid con goer myself these days, it’s interesting to see how pop-culture entertainment events have evolved since this movie was released almost 15 years ago. At that time, dressing up as your favorite TV show character in a public setting, might earn one some ribbing, which Galaxy Quest does with care and respect. In contrast, conventions and cosplay have become such mainstream elements of present day culture; it’s the people whom don’t dress to the nine as mucus oozing extra-terrestrials that are finding themselves in the minority.
Getting back to the Galaxy Quest synopsis, the group of has been actors is led by Jason Nesmeth (Tim Allen) who played the testosterone infused leader of the NSEA Protector, Commander Peter Quincy Taggert. Unfortunately that testosterone isn’t an act as Nesmeth has a chip and an ego on his shoulders as the former lead of the show. While Nesmeth relishes basking in whatever is left of the spotlight that has run since the show was cancelled 17 years prior, the rest of his crew… err… cast, aren’t thrilled with his larger than life attitude. He uses his trademark quote “Never give up. Never surrender” whenever the opportunity allows for it.
It’s only when a real life alien race asks Nesmeth and his crew to help defend them from an agressive evil alien threat that things really start getting good. That is because unbeknownst to the good natured, but innocent Thermian race that have no concept of cable television, mistake episodes of the Galaxy Quest show for historical documents of the crew kicking alien hind parts and talking names later. That and working out peaceful accords between warring alien communities.
The story itself is the modern day equivalent of asking Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemesworth, Mark Ruffalo and Chris Evans to put on colorful costumes and stop a real life invasion of aliens with superior technology that are hell bent on Earth’s. It would be bad news for the human race in general, but it would no doubt be a laugh riot in the process.
Story alone doesn’t make Galaxy Quest a great movie though, and much of its success needs to be attributed to the cast, which includes the always delightful Alan Rickman , Tony Shalhoub , Daryl Mitchell , Sigourney Weaver , and her cleavage. Along with Allen, it’s a venerable all-star cast of comedians that doesn’t have to run into walls or cuss every other word to evoke a laugh.
Arguably, what really makes Galaxy Quest a classic is the wealth of one liners littered throughout the runtime; something you rarely see anymore in today’s comedies. Hell, watching Alan Rickman mug his disdain and being forced to repeat the line “By Grabthar’s hammer” every 4 seconds is worth the price of addmission alone.
Those that can read this Outlaw like a book, know I’m a huge fan of theatrical soundtracks and I almost forgot what a great score Galaxy Quest has. It’s bold, it’s memorable, and it’s Star Trek without being Star Trek. As previously mentioned though, Galaxy Quest is not a spoof, nor was it meant to be degrading, if anything it is a tribute to the franchise in one of the most unique and hilarious ways possible.
In fact, in a recent unofficial survey of those that don’t get out enough, Galaxy Quest was actually rated better than a half dozen Trek movies. Keep in mind this is from the opinions of the Trek fathful themselves, which is saying quite a bit. Still, it should not be forgotten that without Trek (good and bad… especially bad), there is no Galaxy Quest.
Outside of the jokes and the sci-fi however, what really makes Galaxy Quest take-off (pun-intended), is its heart. Oddly enough, much of that emotion comes from Mathesar, the leader of the helpless Thermian alien race, portrayed with the perfect balance of oddity and innocence by Enrico Colantoni . Mathesar’s unyielding faith in the human race – due mostly to not understanding most of it – is a call out to humanity in general that at our core, we are not as self-serving some would guilt us into believing.
There was one interesting consideration I walked away with that I hadn’t thought about after any of my other subsequent viewings of the flick. That is, when you break it down to its most simple explanation, actors are liars for a living. They all pretend to be other people and do things they can’t in the name of entertaining other people, and to top it off, we honor and reward them handsomely for doing it.
Don’t worry fellow Outlaws, I’m not getting all self-righteous on you to the point where I start planning a pilgrimage to the Andes Mountains in nothing but a pair of moccasins and a tube sock. As a lover of movies and television, I found it an interesting perspective on the profession in general. Just a little something to think about while we idolize those who pretend to be something they are not.
That said, did I mention the best part of my evening was saying hello and taking a picture with Mr. Tool Time himself?!