Movie #111 2020: Galaxy Quest (1999)

1999 is a famously great year for cinema. There was The Matrix, Fight Club, American Beauty, Eyes Wide Shut, The Green Mile, The Sixth Sense, Girl, Interrupted, Magnolia, Boys Don’t Cry… It’s a year that is literally saturated with cinematic all-time greats, there’s no denying it.

What do you notice about that list? There’s no comedy!

It’s so disappointing that comedy films are regularly so hit-and-miss, and that they’re dismissed immediately by the Academy purely because… they’re comedy.

Well, I would argue that this is one of the great comedies of the end of the twentieth century.

Galaxy Quest tells the story of the cast of a sci-fi TV show, who are all washed up and struggling in their careers since their show ended. It also turns out that some real life aliens have seen the show, mistaken it for a documentary, and they now think that these actors can save their planet from destruction. It’s a fun premise and it makes for some great comedy.

Not only is it the clear inspiration for one of smash hit Black Mirror‘s most celebrated episodes, USS Callister, it has ”cult classic” written all over it. And so it should.

The cast is exceptional. You have Sigourney Weaver as the token female character (I’ve mentioned Weaver three times now in recent posts, which was unintentional!), Tim Allen as the stoic ‘captain’ of the ship, and the absolute perfection that is Alan Rickman as the brooding alien sidekick. Not only that, but the secondary cast is full of familiar faces too who have since gone on to become household names in their own right. (Think The Office‘s Rainn Wilson and Justin Long). With a host of outstanding humans like that, how could you go wrong?

To be fair, I didn’t find the first half of this movie all that funny. However, the second half had me crying with laughter. It’s so charming and so ‘feel good’ that you can’t help but love it. Granted, I did wish that it had made me laugh a bit more in the first act, but it makes up for it so well by the second half that I didn’t even care by the time I completed the movie.

Galaxy Quest is undoubtedly a loving parody of real TV shows like Star Trek, but it finds a special sort of balance in not making it overly ridiculous. Of course it has to be ridiculous and slapstick to an extent, but this isn’t your average Scary Movie type of ridiculousness. It finds just the right amount of ridiculousness, wraps it up in a solid, well-paced plot, and keeps it all condensed to roughly 100 minutes so you don’t feel as though they tried to cram too much in.

Honestly, I’m not sure that younger crowds would enjoy this, unless they’re the young Trekkie anomaly. But adults of a certain age definitely should give this a shot. It takes you away from the crappy state of the world for a short while and fills you with a sense of joy.

Galaxy Quest is available to stream on Sky Cinema and Now TV in the UK.

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