Embattled aliens mistake TV sci-fi legends for real space heroes in funny but flawed 'Galaxy Quest'
"Galaxy Quest" was birthed from a ripe comedy premise: The leaders of a tyrannized race of pacifist aliens watching TV signals from Earth mistake the cast of a cult status science fiction show for real space adventurers and spirit them away to help save their planet.
It's "Three Amigos" with a tongue-in-cheek "Star Trek" twist and -- at first, anyway -- a pitch-perfect tone of benevolent mockery.
Clad in faux-futuristic Neoprene jumpsuits and sporting bowl-cut hair dos that would embarrass Mr. Spock, the clueless aliens with halcyon smirks, waddling walks and a nasal, monotone vocabulary are themselves mistaken for autograph-hunting geeks when they invade a sci-fi convention to recruit the "crew" of the illustrious fictional spaceship, the NESA Protector.
In these early scenes, director Dean Parisot ("Home Fries") gets the atmosphere exactly right with a sea of paunchy, pimply, badly-costumed extras shouting out space-jargon inquisitions to the faded stars of the long-canceled show as if they really were their characters.
He engineers a few adept displays of splendid "Trek" spoof, too -- complete with exaggerated homages to the 1980s era USS Enterprise sets. He even parodies particular episodes.
But somewhere along the way "Galaxy Quest" forgets that it's meant to be goofing on the serio-comic sincerity of "Star Trek" and its ilk, and lets the comedy stall out in favor of its own superficial earnestness. All that's left are a few scraps of laughs and the absurdly nonsensical sci-fi plot about defending the innocuous nerd aliens from a nefarious race of imposing, barnacled space beasts.
Parisot does, however, get an A+ for the crafty casting of the "Galaxy Quest" crew, whose careers have been reduced to ribbon-cutting gigs at electronics stores grand openings.
Tim Allen is the ham-acting captain, a prima donna lush who feeds his huge ego with the adoration of clamoring conventioneers. Hung over when he's first abducted, he thinks he's just on another inane personal appearance booking. "Great sets," he groans, walking throught to his confused hosts' spacecraft.
Sigorney Weaver is clearly having a ball as the show's busty, karate-chopping blonde, cast solely for her sex appeal (think Seven-of-Nine in a Farrah wig and less about 100 IQ points).
Playing the crew's resident bulb-headed alien, Alan Rickman ("Dogma" "Die Hard") strikes a prefect chord of constant sarcasm as a frustrated British thespian who now can't get serious work to save his life.
Then there's Tony Shalhoub ("The Siege," "Men in Black") as the bemused chief engineer, Daryl Mitchell ("Home Fries") as the show's obligatory child prodigy -- now grown up and bitter -- and Sam Rockwell ("The Green Mile") as a nameless disposable crewman who got killed before the first commercial break in one episode. He now scrapes together a living MC-ing these conventions.
Six hilariously-scripted parts, but they run out of laugh material long before the movie ends, and "Galaxy Quest" must then limp to the closing credits supported by its actual plot, which is, by design, stupider than anything "Star Trek" ever devised.