Friday, October 12, 2007

Galaxy Quest

Hey, you know what else might be fun? Rather than the 87th consecutive post about television? Watching a movie! Like this one:

By Grabthar's hammer!

Man, I love Galaxy Quest. Now, I'm not going to defend it as an all-time great or anything. I mean, it's no RoboCop. But it's just a big bundle of fun, enjoyable no matter how many times I see it. It definitely would fit right in on my Most Rewatchable Movies list.

The premise: the cast of a long-cancelled, fan favorite sci-fi TV series (such as, oh, I don't know, Star Trek) gets mistaken for real spacefaring heroes by an alien race, and swept up into an interplanetary war. Much hilarity ensues.

Every member of the cast is just so perfect. Tim Allen has never been better (not that there's a lot of competition) as Jason Nesmith, the egotistical "captain" of the group. Sigourney Weaver is wonderful, playing against her Aliens reputation as Gwen DeMarco, a bosomy blonde whose only job on the TV show was to repeat what the computer said. Alan Rickman kicks all kinds of ass as Alexander Dane, the deeply resentful Shakespearean actor reduced to playing an alien and wearing a rubber appliance on his head.

Among the rest of the outstanding cast: Sam Rockwell, in one of his earliest breakout roles, as the extra who fears he's all-too-expendable (his situation report from the tactical computer: "Hey guys, there's a red thingy moving toward the green thingy.... I think we're the green thingy"); Enrico Colantoni as the lead alien whose faith in the reality of "Galaxy Quest" can not be shaken (when asked if he also believes Gilligan's Island is real, he woefully mourns, "Those poor people"); Daryl Mitchell as the panicky pilot (who is played as a child by Corbin Bleu, now of High School Musical fame); Tony Shalhoub as the ultra-laid back engineering officer (initial reaction on being transported through outer space onto a genuine spaceship: a coolly appreciative, "That was a hell of a thing"); Missi Pyle (perhaps most famous as the mono-browed Fran from Dodgeball) as the alien who falls in love with Shalhoub; Justin Long (also of Dodgeball, strangely enough) as the nerdy fan who helps the crew on their adventures (in between his mom making him take out the trash); Heidi Swedberg (George's dead fiancee from Seinfeld) as Justin's mom; and, in one of his earliest roles, The Office's Rainn Wilson as one of the alien engineers.

That's a lot of comedic talent, and it all pays off in this clever, funny, and at times even exciting movie. Everybody gets their moment to shine, and not just comedically; I can't help but cheer every time I get to the scene where Rickman's character loses his composure and, with a banshee scream, viciously attacks an alien villain.

In many ways, this is like the ultimate fanfic: what if Shatner, Nimoy and the rest really had to pilot a spaceship into battle? But the script is a lot better than the primitive, somewhat mercenary film you would expect from the description. It's got an unceasing amiability to it, a warm regard, underneath the comedic barbs, for sci-fi actors, fans, and the genre itself.

Additional fun can be had, by the way, by watching for the obvious cuts made to turn the originally-planned PG-13 movie into a straight PG. Try to identify where the curse words have been removed. Best one: when Sigourney Weaver balks at a dangerous path and exclaims, "Screw that!" Only -- her lips are saying something else. "Screw" doesn't begin with an "f," Sigourney!

Sure, the whole thing's kind of goofy, but it's a pleasant, cheery goofiness that never gets old. I just watched my DVD yesterday, and I already feel like watching it again.

I'll be back to posting about TV later today. Just wanted to mix things up a bit. Even I need a television break every once in a while!

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