Galaxy Quest (1999)
February 7, 2016 1:21 PM - Subscribe

The alumni cast of a space opera television series have to play their roles as the real thing when an alien race needs their help.

NYTimes: ''Galaxy Quest" ... spins out of a single joke, about a bunch of washed-up actors from a canceled television series who are enlisted by some credulous interplanetary simpletons to champion them in conflict with a scaly, bellicose villain who has all but exterminated their people. If ''Galaxy Quest'' never attains consistently giddy heights as it plays out its combination of knowing satire and heroic adventure, it nevertheless keeps its tongue firmly in its cheek, offers a few genuine laughs, moves swiftly, if not at warp speed, and is led by a talented cast.

Roger Ebert: The movie's humor works best when the illogic of the TV show gets in the way. There is on board, for example, a passageway blocked by alternating vertical and horizontal clappers that smash back and forth across the passageway. Negotiating it could be fatal. Why are they there? No reason. Just because they look good on TV.

Trailer

20 Things You Might Not Know About Galaxy Quest

The 'Galaxy Quest' Ending is Really an Evil Government Reality Show

Deleted Scenes

Retrospective video review

Galaxy Quest TV Series Landing at Amazon

Galaxy Quest Previously on MetaFilter: [1] [2]
posted by MoonOrb (45 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
I do like this movie pretty well, but I've always been bugged by the scene where they have to run through some crazy starship engine whirligig thing that's slamming around like a sprung trap in an Indiana Jones movie, and Sigourney Weaver screams something about how the old shows were very badly written. What Trek (or general sci-fi) scenario is that supposed to be parodying? I've watched a lot of sci-fi, good and bad, and I'm not remembering anything like that. We used to see Scotty looking kind of uncomfortable crawling through the Jeffries tubes, but that was about it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:56 PM on February 7, 2016


THIS IS A DOCUMENTARY!
posted by sammyo at 2:02 PM on February 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love this movie so, so much. The thing I most love about the chompers scene is that Sigourney Weaver obviously says "Well, fuck that!" but is overdubbed to say "Well, screw that!" to keep the PG rating. The original line is much funnier.

It also has the greatest dry reading of any line, ever: "By Grabthar's Hammer....what a savings."* The existential despair that flits across his face during the pause is just exquisite.

*RIP Alan Rickman, you magnificent soul.
posted by LooseFilter at 2:11 PM on February 7, 2016 [35 favorites]


@Ursula Hitler: The visual style and set up made me think more of the endless hand-rail free chasms and open-pit of death engineering scenes in Star Wars than anything in Star Trek. Star Fleet was pretty good at meeting OSHA requirements, but would putting seatbelts on the bridge and fuses in the consoles kill anyone? The regularity with which sparks that flew while people were tossed off their chairs was pretty amazing and there really should have been incident reports filed.

Also, this is a great movie I need to watch again, both on its own merits and as an Alan Rickman tribute.
posted by mark k at 2:21 PM on February 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


What Trek (or general sci-fi) scenario is that supposed to be parodying?

I wouldn't say it's a specifically sci-fi thing, but as you note, it's a trope in the Indiana Jones movies, and I'd add as another example The Rock, with its ridiculous flame-burst corridor they have to go through to get into the prison. It's just shorthand for "We need to add about five minutes to the show, so let's make up some stupid danger that an OSHA investigator would shut down in an instant."
posted by Etrigan at 2:26 PM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


At the time a lot of my friends panned this movie, but we were ignorant high school kids. Now when we rewatch it we can truly appreciate it.
posted by numaner at 2:52 PM on February 7, 2016


Tony Shalhoub is absotively hilarious in this film.
posted by parki at 3:30 PM on February 7, 2016 [8 favorites]


To dislike this movie, you've gotta be determinedly hard to please.
posted by nom de poop at 3:52 PM on February 7, 2016 [8 favorites]


"Let's get out of here before one of those things kills Guy!"

I love the way the human characters just gradually accept the premise and start acting with corny scifi logic. There is no big speech where they realize what is going on and how to succeed, instead they just start dropping lines like the above, casually indicating that they have internalized the situation. It's the mark of a clever script.
posted by AndrewStephens at 3:57 PM on February 7, 2016 [16 favorites]


Once when I was home from college for the summer I went to my friend Tim's house, where a bunch of my high school friends were congregating before we went out to do something. My friend Curt brought Galaxy Quest with him and we started watching it while we waited for people to show up, thinking it would be dumb. A hour later when Tim Allen is fighting the rock monster Curt turns to the twenty of us (the last person had arrived fort minutes earlier) and said, "Guys this is really good."

I have no recollection of what we had originally planned to do because after the movie ended we all went to Steak 'n Shake and talked about how great the movie was. The entire ensemble is amazing and it works as both a loving homage and parody of its source material and its fandom.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:27 PM on February 7, 2016 [8 favorites]


I remember laughing out loud (for real!) for several minutes on end after Tim Allen's "WHY ARE THERE CLOMPY THINGS?!??!?!"

Also, I rewatched this and holy crap, the teenager helping them out was baby Justin Long! He was 20 when this movie was made, and I gotta say, he looks the same as he does now at age 36.
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:38 PM on February 7, 2016


Tony Shalhoub is absotively hilarious in this film.

His performance is beautifully subtle. "That was a helluva thing." Maybe my favorite stoner character?

(Also, Sam Rockwell's reaction to the transport right before that. I literally LOL every time.)
posted by LooseFilter at 5:10 PM on February 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


I guess if they were including Star Wars in the parody, the engine room death trap thing makes a little more sense.

Argh. This is one of those movies that doesn't seem that old to me, until a bunch of people show up and they're like,"I remember seeing this when I was an itty-bitty sprout!"
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:19 PM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


"He doesn't understand. Explain as you would a child."

Enrico Colantoni, so good. I was thrilled when he showed up on Person of Interest.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:40 PM on February 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


It makes sense when you remember that, if a Federation starship gets hit by one solid enemy strike, half the consoles on the bridge explode and sometimes people die or are at least critically injured. In the pilot for DS9, which has a prologue set at the Battle of Wolf 359 (i.e. the one where a single Borg cube rips through a whole Starfleet fleet in nothing flat), Sisko's old captain (played by the same actor who would go on to play the Klingon General Martok) dies about thirty seconds in. So... yeah.

As to the subject of the FPP, yeah, I really love this. "Five curtain calls."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:20 PM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Rewatched this 2x recently, somehow the second time was even more fun. I liked it when it came out, but it works better now that good Trek is behind us.

For the record it also works if you were never into Trek (my gf hasn't watched a single episode or movie) because of the top notch film making all around. The effesta work (except for the bad dude's hat feathers) and the cast is beyond charming.

I read through old mefi threads about the movie after watching it, and its fun to see many of the same points in this thread. Its not my theory, but if you include this in the star trek movie canon it completes the odd bad, even good rule for Trek movies.

Fantastic movie.
posted by kittensofthenight at 7:28 PM on February 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


"They're not all documentaries. Surely you don't think Gilligan's Island is a...."

"Those poor people."
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:40 PM on February 7, 2016 [24 favorites]


I love the way the human characters just gradually accept the premise and start acting with corny scifi logic.

"DID ANY OF YOU ACTUALLY WATCH THE SHOW?!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:58 PM on February 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


Everything about the goofy aliens is so funny. Their look, mannerisms, expressions, speech; all of it makes me just laugh to think about, and I think it carries a lot of the movie in between some of the gags. Veronica Mars's dad goes so over the top it's hard to believe it's the same actor.

And really this movie walks such a demanding line. A lot of the jokes are pretty low hanging fruit, but it's just executed so well. It could have gone wrong a thousand ways.
posted by nom de poop at 9:29 PM on February 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


So we missed Galaxy Quest at first, because it seemed stupid. And then word circulated among my friends that "You HAVE to go see it!" But due to one thing or another, it was several months before we went to see it, and by then it had migrated to the cheap theater. But OK, it was an old, but functional theater. And it would be empty right?

I was a bit surprised that on a weeknight the theater filled up. And we watched it, and there was laughter, and at the end, the audience applauded. FOUR MONTHS AFTER THE MOVIE WAS RELEASED. The audience broke into spontaneous applause.

Now that's something I've really never seen before.
posted by happyroach at 9:33 PM on February 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


"He doesn't understand. Explain as you would a child."

That line really stuck with me, because it simultaneously drives home how vulnerable these poor aliens are and also how truly evil the bad guys are. Imagine knowing that you were torturing a creature as dumb and innocent as a child, and feeling like that was OK. There are actual stakes in this movie, amid all the laughs.

That line was cut in the version I saw on TV a few years ago. It isn't a funny line, but there's no way I'd leave it out.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:01 PM on February 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


parki: "Tony Shalhoub is absotively hilarious in this film."

Everyone's great but he really makes the movie for me.
posted by octothorpe at 5:11 AM on February 8, 2016


That line really stuck with me, because it simultaneously drives home how vulnerable these poor aliens are and also how truly evil the bad guys are. Imagine knowing that you were torturing a creature as dumb and innocent as a child, and feeling like that was OK. There are actual stakes in this movie, amid all the laughs.

Agreed, though the grammarian in me cringes at it. Just do another take where he says "as you would TO a child," fercryinoutloud.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:50 AM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Agreed, though the grammarian in me cringes at it. Just do another take where he says "as you would TO a child," fercryinoutloud.

Whoa, not every galactic alien is raised with a fine grasp of English. Man. Didn't expect to see that type of response on Mefi.

Ahem.

I don't think I really admit it to myself, but Galaxy Quest is probably in my Top 10 favorite movies, if not Top 20. It's definitely Top 10 favorite comedies. It's a movie that's subtle in its high quality, because at a glance, the premise and the subject it's riffing on isn't necessarily the ingredients we expect modern films to draw upon to be great. It's up there with Futurama in the care it offers to Star Trek and its fans. It has such a stellar cast with Tim Allen playing something of the anti-Shatner in his complete embrace of the fame the television show bequeathed upon him, until his unintentional eavesdropping in the bathroom. This is my favorite movie of his. Hands down. His and Sigourney Weaver's chemistry works great and I love her constant frustration with her role on the original film. The dry, almost anguished delivery of Rickman at the beginning then contrasted by his passionate declaration by the end is a beautiful transformation from a man who cares nothing at all to a man infused overwhelming emotion.

It's also a love letter to most sci-fi or fantasy fans. I think that at some point in our lives, we do like to think, "Wouldn't it be incredible if this was real?" In this case, the true fans, as lead by Justin Long's character, they get to see the object of their obsession come to life. It's a wish fulfillment feature.
posted by Atreides at 7:09 AM on February 8, 2016


This is a fantastic movie. On initial glance of the look and feel and the basic plot it looks to be a cheeseball, sloppily made sci-fi parody. But the story has actual heart and well written laughs. It's one of those movies I went into thinking "this will be a fun waste of 90 minutes and should be good for a laugh at the sci-fi I like" but this ended up being such a good movie on its own terms and very re-watchable.

Rickman and Shaloub who were excellent as always and I was pleasantly surprised by newcomers Pyle and Long who really sold their parts. But the biggest surprises for me were Allen and Weaver. I don't really have anything against Tim Allen but it always seemed to me that he was playing the same slightly gruff everyman turned up to eleven. He was surprisingly good in this and he seemed like an actual developed character. I've never really cared for Sigourney Weaver but I really liked her in this. Her conflicts with the rest of the cast and the show were quite well played.

Here's something that's bugged me and it's happening here. Why do the actors names not line up with their pictures on some of the cover art and posters? I understand that they are listed in an agreed upon order, but then why not line up the actors in that order? In this case the art is not a still from the movie, so they could compose it anyway they want. Did Rickman's people win 'top billed by image' status and Allen's people get 'top billed by name' or something? I've seen this often with movies where there is no obvious reason not to rearrange the people to line up. It's hard to believe it's not intentional since the names in this case are actually written right on the actor's chests.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:48 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


There was some talk a year or two ago about finally making a sequel, which, while I was tickled about then, I don't know if I could bear now without Alan Rickman. Even still, they could probably find a write-around to explain that his character simply could no longer bear any more involvement in the show, and maybe get some laughs out of some new guy trying to "reboot" the part a la Zachary Quinto and Spock, but it just won't be the same.
posted by briank at 8:07 AM on February 8, 2016


they could probably find a write-around to explain that his character simply could no longer bear any more involvement in the show

Have him frozen in carbonite on the bridge.
posted by Etrigan at 8:11 AM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


In a previous thread about "Galaxy Quest", I commented on how much I like the aliens who've mistaken the actors for heroes in this movie, and how the idea of a species that doesn't understand lying is a very "Star Trek" kind of idea, elevating the movie from a mere parody into an actual exemplar of the thing it set out to satirize.

We watched it again recently, occasioned by the Alan Rickman's death, and it occurred to me this time around that in their actual, non-cloaked form, the aliens look pretty much like gigantic cephalopods. Since we know from their own statements that the ship and the docking station it launches from were modeled after the "documentaries" they intercepted, we also know nothing at all about what one of their own ships would have looked like "naturally", uninfluenced by Earthly ideas. This all put me in mind of a nature documentary I watched a while back, about squids and how some of them have evolved from being able to change their skin color for camouflage purposes to being able to do really sophisticated communicative multi-color displays.

It's kind of head cannon for me now that the aliens don't understand lying because their native "language" is visual rather than verbal, based on transformations for skin color and texture which are largely or entirely rooted in involuntary reflexes that cannot be altered in such a way as to form false statements.
posted by Ipsifendus at 8:28 AM on February 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's kind of head cannon for me now that the aliens don't understand lying because their native "language" is visual rather than verbal

They gobble and screech an awful lot for it to be a visual language. The dvd even has an option to watch the movie in Thermian with English subtitles.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:45 AM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I watched this with my daughter. At first, she was like "This is boring, mom, why are we watching it?" Twenty minutes later: "Ssssh! Mom! I'm trying to watch!"
posted by corb at 10:24 AM on February 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


I heartily recommend to anyone who appreciated Galaxy Quest to at least consider reading John Scalzi's Redshirts (Wil Wheaton is the reader on the audiobook version).
posted by porpoise at 6:43 PM on February 8, 2016


Galaxy Quest is in my probably Top 3 of movies, next to Killer of Sheep and Spirit of the Beehive.

For some reason I found it by accident in a DVD collection of a vacation rental somewhere in Northern California. I was like, "Tim Allen? Fuck this." but I watched it anyway. I was like, literally ROTFL. My daughter, a massiver Trekkie than I ever was, despite my also being a Trekkie, discovered it last year. We just watched it again together a week or two ago. It is so. Fucking. Good.

Why is it good? Because I don't remember any other movie (or book!) that parodies so sharply, with so much love. This is a fan movie in the most satisfying way. I don't think the filmmakers were especially big Star Trek fans... I read that somewhere, but somehow they totally capture the passion of a Star Trek fan. This movie is beautiful and smart and pointlessly funny and just fucking perfect.
posted by latkes at 11:49 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


"I know! I'll put my hands like this and go 'Caww Caww'!"
"What are you? An infant?"


Also, routinely in our house during times of dread I will yell, loudly,
"This is an alien planet! Is there air? YOU DON'T KNOW!" *Gasps*

This is one of my favorite movies for more reasons that I can describe right now before I go to bed. Just rewatched a few days ago.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:01 AM on February 9, 2016


I just stayed up until 5am watching this for the nth time.

By Grabthar's hammer, I will get you all.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:57 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


You know how they say that genre shows always get one impossible thing in the premise that you have to sign off on? For Galaxy Quest, the major unreal element is the idea that actors do convention appearances in full character costume and that the whole cast would do every appearance together. That is the only thing about fandom that the movie gets wrong, but the whole premise of the movie hangs on it since Alexander Dane needs to have his Dr. Lazarus head on, so, it's the kind of "ok, Santa Claus is real" part of the movie. (But as someone who has been going to conventions since high school in the 80's, it still pains my nerdy soul that they had to get that part wrong in this otherwise perfect jewel of a movie.)
posted by oh yeah! at 5:41 AM on February 9, 2016


I remember that, shortly after the movie came out, my friend Scott (who had seen the movie) was talking to my friend Craig and me (neither of whom had seen it), and was telling us how good it was. Craig said, "But it stars Tim Allen..." and Scott said, "Right! It stars Tim Allen! But it's Tim Allen as William Shatner!" And we were both, OK, yes, I can see how that would work.
posted by jwgh at 6:23 AM on February 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Here's something that's bugged me and it's happening here. Why do the actors names not line up with their pictures on some of the cover art and posters?

Although not directly about the bits at the top of the poster, the "Cast" bit in this article is quite informative - "Assembling a film's billing block" - and you can probably extrapolate from that why the names and pictures often don't match up on the posters either.
posted by dng at 11:18 AM on February 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think the mention of Scalzi's Redshirts upthread finally crystallized what it was I didn't like about the book. As a book it's entirely serviceable as an exploration of what it would be like to live in the world of a Wagon Train to the Stars type series. Ultimately though it's just a poorer attempt at the same thing that Galaxy Quest nailed, to the point where I think the well of "Loving Parody of Star Trek" is forever poisoned.

This has actually helped a lot since in general I like Scalzi as an author, and haven't been able to articulate what it was that turned me off about Redshirts.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:28 AM on February 9, 2016


Why do the actors names not line up with their pictures on some of the cover art and posters?

On the main poster, Tim Allen is in front of the other two, so he still has the most prominent position, which "lines up" with his being listed first in the credits. For the rest of them, the art department likely has more leeway to rearrange the pictures, but the credits will always be Allen-Weaver-Rickman. It's even possible that that leeway was only within certain constraints (e.g., X% of promotional art must feature Tim Allen in most prominent position; Y% may vary but must include Allen; Weaver and Rickman will always be equally sized and have a balanced percentage of most prominent position; etc.).
posted by Etrigan at 11:40 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Explain as you would a child."

Can somebody make one of those text-replacing browser plugins that changes "ELI5" to this?
posted by eruonna at 12:42 PM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I loved this movie.

Our family motto is "Never give up, never surrender!"
posted by Stark at 2:25 AM on February 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


A friend posted up a thing on facebook the other day on films that you watch again and again and Galaxy Quest is definitely one of them for me. I'm having to resist just firing it up right now coz I've got stuff to do tomorrow.

I get the feeling that the 'badly written episode' thing was a dig at the way a lot of those old shows were written around ad breaks so there was always these moments of false peril just shoved in to keep you watching. Also the writers were pounding away never thinking about the actual logic of any 'engineering' they might do to keep the characters in peril. There's a bit I remember reading in the script that didn't make it to the movie where they just go into a void on the star ship because that's a bit the writers had never got around to describing.

And every spaceship should have a pub.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:26 PM on February 11, 2016


Oh and always amazed it was the writers only produced screenplay according to IMDB
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:26 PM on February 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love this movie in spite of itself. I often use the line, "Look. I have one job around here. It's stupid, but I'm going to do it! Okay?"
posted by ob1quixote at 8:15 PM on February 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


I watched this with my daughter. At first, she was like "This is boring, mom, why are we watching it?" Twenty minutes later: "Ssssh! Mom! I'm trying to watch!"

I watched it last year with my 10 year old who had the same response! Although sadly, most of the parody/homage joy was lost on her since she has yet to see any episode of ST - or any other space opera for that matter - nor does she know the first thing about their fandom. But it kind of tickles me to think that when she inevitably will, the experience for her will be "like Galaxy Quest, only they're serious about it". (God, I hope I didn't pre-emptively spoil the genre for her, now that I think of it!)

But the "We pretended... we lied" definitely crushed both of us.

Anyway, I love this movie, it just plays me like a fiddle on so many levels. I think it's amazing how they managed to both satirize the genre and recreate its innocence. And I love the casting - Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver obvs, but I also think that casting Tim Allen as William Shatner Cmdr. Taggart was a stroke of genius (while being the only time I think casting him for anything other than sweeping the studio floor was a good idea).
posted by sively at 4:10 AM on February 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


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