When Ross asked Chandler, Rachel claims this is her favorite movie, Chandler answered Dangerous Liaisons. When Ross asked what her actually favorite movie was Joey answered Weekend at Bernies. It was a great scene from Friends that does show truth. We all claim “Spirited Away” or The King’s Speech or some at least well acknowledged movie is our favorite movie while there are plenty movies that might give us more joy. Movies that make you laugh each time and we can’t help but to secretly adore. Yesterday one of mine was on local television and so it is time to start my captain’s log and confess about those movies I love but never talk about! Mission 1… Galaxy Quest
The movie came out in the Netherlands in august of 2000, very lowkey it flew under the radar for me until I finally rented it someday it might actually be really fun. In a way it can be seen as the Star Trek counterpart for Spaceballs which spoofed mostly Star Wars. Where the way more famous latter movie had characters actually set in the sci-fi world but being able to break through the fourth wall plenty of times, this movie is basically the exact counterpart of it. In this movie the crew of an old sci-fi show gets called into space to deal with an evil tyrant named Sarris. However since they are only actors they don’t really know what they are doing. Everything is based on a lie and they are in over their heads. It doesn’t seem like a very original plot but it has the heart in the right place and has some very nice messages about fandoms throughout.
Jason Nesmith , played by Tim Allan, used to play suave captain Peter Quincy Taggart on the tv show Galaxy Quest. Along with his fellow actors Gwen DeMarco , portrayed by Sigourney Weaver, the elitist Alexander Dane, brilliantly depicted by sir Alan Rickman, the always cheerful Fred Kwan, played by Tony Shalhoub and grown up childhood star Tommy Webber, Darryl Mitchell, all he has left now is a handful of gigs to relive their glory days.These gigs vary from constant fan conventions to opening electronic stores. Galaxy Quest is clearly inspired by Star Trek and is focussing on the world of the Trekkie rather than the world of Star Trek itself. The actors in the movie can not find other gigs because they are to connected to their respective roles, an issue that still feels quite relatable.. looking at some careers.Their magical days of succes are over now. The movie deals with what is left for these actors when the golden days are over, what becomes of star trek ..or galaxy quest past it’s runtime which is where the movie really shines for me.
Jason is the only one about his crew that is super excited to visit these conventions. He loves how people look up to him, think he is a real Starship Captain, he takes on any gig he can find to be with his fans. Much to his crew’s dismay. He treats them like lesser elements of the show and they hate him for it. They hate him for taking this so seriously while they are tired of gig. Alan Rickman’s character is so fed up from using his catchphrase he has a little panic attack every time he has to go on stage. At first the show seems to depict fans as your typical geek depiction of movies. Cosplayed, unhealthy looking way to shy and insanely obsessed with even the tiniest of details. Think Stewart of the Big Bang Theory.
When a group of actual Aliens show up at a convention of course Jason thinks they are just another bunch of weirdo’s taking things way to serious like that one kid who ask them about how computers of level 2 could operate something, while seventeen episodes earlier it was clearly show those computers do not have that function. It’s a funny and sort of credible scenario, between the cosplayers it’s something hard to distinguish what is real and what is not.
When Jason visits the bathroom though he hears some convention goers talk doodoo about him and he realises how much everything is a charade. He now knows the crew hates him and how he is a terrible person for allowing people to believe he is a real captain..just so he can feel cool. Now at the same low his colleagues are.. The hurt captain has a falling out and resorts to drinking The next day he wakes up to four crazy fans at his house.. telling him he has to help them stop an alien warlord. Thinking this is some crazy larping gig he will get payed for Jason agrees.. only to quickly find out ..now things are real. Again the premises doesn’t feel original at all yet on an emotional side this one connects to me so much more. It’s the standard “in over your head” plot.. but the build up for this one is perfect.
A Fake Reality
It takes a while for Jason to realise what he is doing is real.. after all he has been desensitized to all the sci-fi stuff by doing these sorts of gigs for 18 years. Yet when he finds out this is real.. something changes. He finds a drive to finally do something real.. he can make a true difference, it pushes him to take risks he normally would not have taken. He needed to realise his world was fake ..to realise this was real, to be able to step up to the plate and take on the challenge the movie presents. When he can get his crew involved he becomes super excited. Finally they can be the heroes they really are. The next few scenes have them revered as heroes.
After all the alien race they are helping led by Mathesar have found their footage, they saw their historic tellings and think this is the greatest crew of space adventurers that ever lived. Their race does not have a concept similar to acting. Everything they film is true.. so by their logic so was this. To get the crew to help them they reconstructed the ship to every minute detail. Tommy can fly the ship just like he would in the show. Alexander gets the food of the race he played and Gwen…has to say what the computer says because that was her job on the show.
No matter how hard the crew tries however, it doesn’t take long for cracks to appear in this reality. Gwen’s role of repeating the computer, isn’t very practical or even useful, it’s just how female sci-fi roles were written in that time. She doesn’t know what else to do. Tommy over 18 years forgot what he used to do on set to control the spaceship, even then he was just busy with acting not actively thinking on how to steer a ship. Things did not happen because of his piloting skills, things happened because of plot. So when he steers into a minefield this time.. things go bad very fast.
Fred was just saying lines on the job he has no real idea how a beryllium engine sphere works, so his reports to the captain are filled with doubt. Jason doesn’t realise he is not actually Peter Taggart.. and expects they have plot armor..but this movie tells them .. you don’t…. well of course they don’t die which would have been the most likely outcome..but still they suffer a big loss. I really like that they don’t actually have the skills and acting out the part is not always enough.
A Real Lie
The third act of the movie is focussed on the actors fessing up to their lies and coming to a realisation that they are not the actually heroes of Galaxy Quest. They are not what keeps it alive. In truth it is the fandom. The show is over.. so it’s not the writing or their acting that keeps them having their job. It’s people who love their adventures.. much like these aliens they were trying to help. It’s those crazy sweaty guys that cue up for you and ask you stupid questions about terminal 125B-Q, it is those people who see you as a real captain.
Galaxy Quest is not made by the actors who love being praised.. it is made by the people who praise it. These aliens made their ship.. and trough communication with some hardcore fans on earth the group is able to get stuff done. We see them come to terms with thinking as a fan.. treating this like it was real.. like the characters are real.. because in the hearts who made this ship.. they are real. At a certain point Rickman has to say his catchphrase to a dying Thermian..who just wants to here “By Grabthar’s Hammer You Shall be Avenged” .. because it means so much to him. Thus for the first time the phrase really gets meaning! It became real! Such a nice scene!
To me Galaxy Quest is not just about the jokes and the dry humor. It’s not about it’s predictable plot.. it’s the motivations that drive this movie. It’s not about the fight against some generic alien. Sarris is pretty generically designed.. if you think evil alien. you probably have one or two features of Sarris included in there. He is green, Lizardlike, Has warpaint, evil looking armor.. he speaks exactly like you imagine him to to do etc. Galaxy Quest is in essence NOT a movie about a Actor getting in over his head, even if that is the plot. It’s about how fans can make something made by others greater. How they can understand it better and elevate it to another level. It’s about how an adventure did not have to actually have happened for it to be real. It’s a message to never stop loving!
I really love and watching this movie always makes me happy to be a geek. Loving a show isn’t a bad thing.. even if a story is fake it can inspire us. Maybe one day a Trekkie will actually discover warp speed based on the show, maybe one day aliens will read my blogs and use technology to give me anime powers.. because I inspired them.. who knows! Fiction can touch us in different ways and respecting it’s fandom is key. We as fans do not create shows.. or movies.. or have a say in what type of game we get. It’s our duty as fans to keep alive what we love!
Which Popcorn flick is your Guilty Pleasure? What movies are you overly positive about? Let me know in the comments and spread some love!