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GALAXY QUEST

TIM ALLEN    ALAN RICKMAN    SIGOURNEY WEAVER    TONY SHALHOUB

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, Hollywood actors were forced to live out the roles they made famous in this comedy written by David Howard and Robert Gordon, and directed by Dean Parisot. Though they're newcomers I look forward to more of their work because this is so good it could have been a Spielberg film.

"Galaxy Quest" is the title of an enormously popular science fiction TV series. Think STAR TREK, as if you couldn't guess. The show is off the air and the cast is unemployed so their income depends on nostalgia-fest and grand opening appearances, and an occasional movie sequel like the one being screened at the beginning of this movie. It's the 18th annual Galaxy Quest convention, and obsessed fans are out in throngs looking pretty scary dressed as their favorite characters. They're viewing a cliff-hanger in which Commander Peter Taggart (ALLEN) delivers his famous line, "Never give up, never surrender" and then threatens to haul out the Omega-13. "To Be Continued" flashes across the screen. Cut to the dressing room where the bored crew of the spaceship NSEA PROTECTOR is waiting to be introduced to the audience. Gwen DeMarco (WEAVER) is Lieut. Tawny Madison. Alexander Dane, alias Dr. Lazarus (RICKMAN) is a very vulcan Dr. Spock-type character. Rounding out the cast is Shalhoub, who plays Fred Kwan/Tech. Sgt. Chen; and Daryl Mitchel as actor Tommy Weber, alias Laredo, who started out as a child actor on the show. They're waiting for Jason Nesmith (ALLEN), alias Cdr. Taggart, who is late because once again he booked an appearance somewhere else without them. In contrast to Nesmith who thrives on attention from fans the others are embarrassed by being typecast, so much so that Alexander has a panic attack before every performance:
    "How did I come to this? I played Richard III. There were five curtain calls. I was an actor once. Now look at me. Look at me!! I'm not going out there and I won't say that stupid line!"

Gwen has no sympathy: "Well Alex at least you had a part. You had a character people loved. My TV GUIDE interview was six paragraphs about how my boobs fit into my suit." She's right--her job was only to look sexy and repeat everything the computer said.

After Nesmith's "the show must go on" pep talk Alex delivers the "stupid" line: "By Granthar's hammer you shall be avenged."  Then it's time to sign autographs for $15 a piece. Jason loves every minute of chatting up the fans and reminiscing until he overhears some kids laughing at him:

"Nesmith gets off on those retards thinking he's really a spaceship commander. Even his buddies can't stand him. Did you hear them ragging on him?"

His whole attitude changes and he snaps at his most loyal and most intelligent fan.

"There is no ship. There is no National Space Exploration Administration. It's just a goddamn TV show!!"

At home he gets smashed while watching re-runs of the show and wakes up with a hangover and five strange-looking people at his door.
"We are Thermians from Nebula,"the leader explains. They need him to negotiate a settlement with some other aliens who want to annihilate them. "Please, commander, you are our last hope."Assuming they are taking him to another job that he had lined up he willingly gets into the limo that they provide. He wakes up in an exact replica of the NSEA PROTECTOR.
"This is great. Usually it's just cardboard walls in a garage."

Actually they've brought him to their planet in the 23rd quadrant of the gamma sector to fight Sarris, a gigantic lizard-like creature who is after the Omega-13. Mathesar the leader proudly tells him that "...We've studied every facet of your missions and strategies. Since the transmission of your historical documents we have modeled every aspect of our society on your example...your courage, friendship, and teamwork through adversity."  It seems the 'historical documents' is the TV show broadcasts that they picked up on their satellites, and they think it's real.

A rejuvenated Nesmith back on Earth tries to convince his crew that it's not just a TV show after all. They think he's finally gone over the edge until the Thermians show up again. Sarris is back and madder than ever. They need his help again, and he doesn't want to go without the others. This is where the movie really heats up, and I won't go any further. You'll have to rent it.

I was never a STAR TREK fan but this is one of my all-time favorite movies, largely due to the "hook"...imagine Leonard Nimoy being taken by aliens who think he's really a Vulcan; and second for the talents of not only Tim Allen, but the supporting actors as well. Enrico Colianni, who's usually fighting off supermodels as photographer Elliott on NBC's "Just Shoot Me" instead of aliens, is great as Mathesar the Thermian leader. Sam Rockwell is also hysterical as the guy who had a bit part once on the show and gets in on the act because he's the convention host. He wants more than anything to be a part of the cast, until they really face off with aliens. His character reminds me of Bill Paxton's in TRUE LIES, who pretends he's a spy to pick up women. When he finds his life really in danger he does what any suave double agent would do: wets himself! Justin Long is also memorable as the geeky Questerian whose knowledge of the show's dialogue saves the day. Of course the special effects in the movie are fantastic, too. GALAXY QUEST will not disappoint.

Now I think I'll go catch a re-run of STAR TREK.

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