Galaxy Quest (1999)

(In theaters, January 2000) A puzzling film. It has a competent story, numerous good special effects, good laughs and a great concept; what if aliens came to earth and sought the help of our SF actors? (Never mind that this exact premise was the basis of 1998’s Diplomatic Act, by Peter Jurasik and Williams H. Keith Jr.) It’s such a can’t-lose premise that even the lousiest writers couldn’t mess it up. And that’s pretty much what happens here: Despite the inherent comic potential of parodying Star Trek and Trek Fandom with the help of Tim “Buzz Lightyear” Allen and Sigourney “Ellen Ripley” Weaver, Galaxy Quest delivers the goods in a strictly pedestrian fashion, never for an instant getting really wild. But at least it delivers, which is more than one could say for many summer blockbusters. Which leads us to Galaxy Quest‘s biggest mystery; why the heck was it released in the Christmas deluge when it fit so perfectly in a summer lineup? Oh well…

(Second viewing, In French, On TV, May 2001) This holds up rather well to a second viewing, especially given the lowered expectations. When not expecting the ultimate Science Fiction TV-Show parody, it plays like a strong, if formulaic, comedy. Most of the actors do a great job, most notably Tim Allen and Tony Shaloub. Special effects are good, especially the rock monster. Some of the script’s most weepy/expected moments (The “We’re actors” confession, the teen-called-to-help segment) are more annoying. I still wish that it would have been a wittier comedy, but it’s still quite good as it is.

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