“Never give up. Never surrender.”
Marriage is a journey. As with any journey, milestones should be celebrated along the way, large and small alike. This is why wedding anniversaries were invented. Dating back to the Holy Roman Empire, anniversaries were originally celebrated only for 25- and 50-year accomplishments. A husband would adorn his wife with a wreath of silver or gold, respectively, upon reaching each of those great marriage landmarks.
Enter capitalism stage left.
Now, there are anniversary gifts for literally every year one has been married. I, myself, just had my seventh anniversary with my wife and we celebrated by doing nothing because we’re still in the throes of a global pandemic. That’s not true, we ate some Ralph’s cake.
What does all this have to do with Galaxy Quest? This year is the 22nd anniversary of that amazing film. The copper anniversary, as it were. (Full disclosure, the seventh anniversary is also copper here in the United States and not Ralph’s cake as previously reported. Typical lazy capitalism.)
Galaxy Quest was written by David Howard and Robert Gordon. It was directed by Dean Parisot. It stars a whole litany of awesome talent from Tim Allen to Sigourney Weaver to Tony Shalhoub to Alan Rickman to Sam Rockwell to Daryl Mitchell to Missi Pyle all the way to Justin Long and Rainn Wilson, both of whom make their feature film debuts.
I should start by saying, you don’t have to be a rabid Star Trek fan in order to enjoy this movie. The extent of my Star Trek knowledge is that I’ve seen a handful of episodes. Furthermore, Star Trek is so embedded in popular culture that even if you haven’t seen a single episode, I feel like you will still get so much enjoyment from watching this film. And fret not dear friends, there’s a sneaky little episode of a Star Trek-like show built into this movie. So, let’s all make some Moscow Mules, kick back, and enjoy.
We open on the Galaxy Quest theme song written by David Newman. It’s pitch perfect. You can hear the inspirations of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones, all while still being its own thing. It takes us into the Galaxy Quest TV show that exists within the world of the movie where we’re introduced to each of the characters.
You’ve got Tim Allen as Jason Nesmith playing Peter Quincy Taggart, dashing Commander.
Alan Rickman as Alexander Dane playing Dr. Lazarus, advisor.
Corbin Bleu as Tommy Webber playing Laredo, child pilot. (Adult Tommy will later be played by Daryl Mitchell.)
Sigourney Weaver as Gwen DeMarco playing Tawny Madison, computer repeater.
Tony Shalhoub as Fred Kwan playing Sergeant Chen, squinter of eyes.
And finally, Sam Rockwell as Guy (Last Name Unclear) playing Crewman #6, expendable.
(See, Sam’s character was in one episode back in the day and was killed by a lava monster before the first commercial break, therefore, no credit… yet. Foreshadowing!)
“By Grabthar’s Hammer, what a savings.”
Fast forward 18 years and we’re at a Galaxy Quest convention where we find all the actors from the show and see where they are now, almost two decades later. They all have their own personal demons to deal with. Alan Rickman’s character bemoans the fact he once played Richard III (to five curtain calls) and now has been reduced to a catchphrase. Sigourney Weaver’s character laments the fact she had no substance on the show, as her only job was to repeat what the computer said and make sure her boobs were as prominent as possible. (More on this later.)
But most of all, they hate Tim Allen’s cocksure character. He’s spent the last 18 years basking in the spotlight, sometimes alone, booking special appearances without them. Despite the contentious relationship, as they’re introduced one by one, they come out with big smiles and waves. They know the side on which their bread is buttered. Conventions are a big source of income for these has-been actors and they’ll take any job they can get, no matter how much they must debase themselves.
The next morning, Allen is awakened by a group of “superfans” dressed in matching jumpsuits, begging him for help with an evil overlord hell-bent on genociding their people. He goes along with them, believing it’s a paying gig his agent set up for him. Thinking the “spaceship” he’s on is an elaborate set created by these superfans, Allen plays the part of the captain perfectly, even going so far as to order the “crew” to fire on the “evil overlord’s” ship, blowing him to bits. It’s only after he’s on his way home does he realize this wasn’t a normal gig.
It was a space gig.
See, the “superfans” are actually aliens. Specifically, Thermians from the Klatu Nebula. The Thermians need Allen to negotiate the surrender of the evil overlord he just shot up with missiles. Allen finds his crew at a sad electronics store autograph signing and tries to convince them all to go up to the spaceship and see it for themselves.
Hard pass. His fellow actors want nothing to do with Allen’s drunken nonsense. Unless, of course, he’s not talking about extraterrestrial space cephalopods, but rather an actual, real life paying gig, in which case…
So, the rest of the crew joins Allen, along with Rockwell’s character, a guy who’s been tagging along at their autograph signings, trying to relieve his pathetic glory days through them. The team all think it’s another cash opportunity they can’t pass up. That is, until they get to the ship and are met by the welcoming committee.
Rockwell panics throughout the movie and it’s a great performance to behold. He believes he’s going to die because he’s expendable. After all, his character on the show was the guy who was killed in order to let the audience know how serious the situation was. His character wasn’t even important enough to have a name. He was Crewman #6. And, when pressed, nobody knows his actual real last name. And even his first name is generic–Guy. That’s it, he’s as good as dead.
But there’s no time for panic, as they’ve come to do battle with the mighty Sarris, evil overlord and space alien extraordinaire. Seen here with what I can only assume are culturally appropriated spider legs growing out of his head.
Anyway, Sarris is back for revenge and after an epic cat and mouse battle almost ending in the tragic death of our heroes, and the near literal destruction of their ship, they escape to fight another day. Problem is, that day is coming soon and they broke the only thing that can give power back to the engines, a Beryllium Sphere. Great, cool, just pop a new one in, how hard can it be? Pretty hard. There’s not a spare one on board, so they fly down to the nearest planet where one can be found.
“Let’s get outta here before one of those things kills Guy.”
Hereabouts is where the Star Trek-ish episode begins. This section follows the format of the original Star Trek show to a T, but with a contemporary spin. When they beam down to the desert planet, there are plenty of Beryllium spheres to go around, they just have to get past the hairless, cannibalistic toddlers.
But these little shits have something different in mind. They capture Allen and put him in a pit-of-death type battle against this charming fella.
Having no real weak spots (it’s not like Allen can kick this dude in the nards) it’s up to his team to beam him up … with their new and not-quite-working technology … without turning him inside out … and exploding him. It works. Allen narrowly escapes. They’ve got their Beryllium sphere.
But Sarris is on board the ship! He takes our heroes captive and goes right back to his genocidal ways by opening an air hatch and threatening to suffocate every Thermian to death. (Those on board are the only ones in existence.)
What a dick.
It’s up to our heroes to be heroes.
“This episode was badly written!”
But first, Weaver and Allen have to go manually shut down the core before it self-destructs. Now, if I could get a little meta here… See, these aliens our heroes are trying to help out, these Thermians, have been watching the old school Galaxy Quest TV show but they don’t realize it’s a fictional show. They don’t know the concept of lying, so pretending and acting are foreign to them. They view the show through the only lens they can understand, as historical documents.
They then modeled their lives after these historical documents. The ship and everything on it was made to mirror those things on the show. So, if the fictional ship from the show had, say, a hallway of hydraulic chompers for absolutely no reason…
Then, so must there be chompers on the new school ship…
This leads Weaver to absolutely, positively, and without question NOT say “Well fuck that” in this sweet, charming PG movie.
(For the record, she says “screw”.)
Speaking of sweet, charming, PG movies, I mentioned before there’d be more about boobs. See, in these types of shows and movies, there’s a habit to have the women show more and more skin as time goes on.
They do so by placing carefully selected rips and tears to show midriff and side boob in a PG way. See Natalie Portman in Star Wars.
So Galaxy Quest does a riff on that as well. Behold, the evolution of Weaver’s outfit from respectable, no cleavage, to exposed bra strap, shoulder, and a little bit of cleavage, to straight up Sun’s out guns out.
Don’t worry, I’m bringing this in for a landing. Weaver and Allen shut down the core, stopping the ship from self-destruction. Rickman saves the Thermians from suffocating with the help of his new alien friend, Quellek. Rockwell manages not to die. Shalhoub falls in love with an alien. Allen and the rest of the crew blow Sarris’s ship to hell and back. Woohoo! Time to celebrate. Ah ha, but not quite yet. Sarris was able to jump ship and make it aboard without their knowledge. He gets the jump on our folks and shoots several of them, killing them right then and there. And that’s when they activate the Omega 13.
Shit, pull up! Pull up! I forgot about the Omega 13.
Nobody really knows what the Omega 13 is or does, not even the cast and crew. The reason is because the original Galaxy Quest episode where the Omega 13 was first mentioned, was a two-parter and they never shot the second part, so literally no one knows what it does. The writers never wrote it. Despite that, the Thermians built an Omega 13 device with the same specifications from the show, having no idea what the end result would be. Some people theorize it’s a “matter collapser,” a bomb big enough to wipe out the entire universe. Others think it’s a “matter rearranger,” which transports everyone thirteen seconds into the past. Just enough time to redeem one mistake.
So, continuing from where we left off… but then they activate the Omega 13. It’s not a bomb and they do jump back 13 seconds into the past, just enough time to fix that one mistake. Allen gets the drop on Sarris and with the help of the Thermian leader Mathesar, they’re able to knock him out. Job done, right?
Not quite yet. The ship is too big to enter Earth’s atmosphere without tearing apart. So our heroes must say goodbye to their new alien friends. Not all of them, however, because it wouldn’t be a Star Trek tribute without someone bagging an alien. Tony Shalhoub steps in to fill that void. She comes with us.
Our heroes break off from the main ship and end up crash landing… right into another Galaxy Quest convention! Despite what is probably high six figures in structural damage done to the building, along with any number of people almost getting crushed to death, the crowd goes apeshit as each of their favorite characters stumble out of the ship and onstage.
Here, Sarris has his one last (second last?) hurrah. He emerges from the ship, ready to wreck shop, when good old Commander Tim Allen comes to the rescue.
Galaxy Quest ends with one of my favorite things, telling the audience what happens to the characters next. That’s right. They’re back, babeeee!
Like marriage, the journey continues. I’m thinking of making this a yearly thing, watching
Galaxy Quest. I hope you all will join me. I’ll see you next year for the 23rd anniversary. Just don’t forget the silver plates.