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David Bruce

Galaxy Quest explores the strong connection between the lives we live and the myths we live by.
-Review by David Bruce

GALAXY QUEST
1999

This page was last updated on May 22, 2005
Directed by Dean Parisot
Writing credits: Robert Gordon, and David Howard

Tim Allen as Jason Nesmith/Commander Peter Quincy Taggart
Sigourney Weaver as Gwen DeMarco/Lt. Tawny Madison
Tony Shalhoub as Fred Kwan/Tech Sergeant Chen
Daryl Mitchell as Tommy Webber/Lt. Laredo
Enrico Colantoni as Mathesar
Sam Rockwell as Guy Fleegman
Missi Pyle as Laliari
Dian Bachar as Alien
J.P. Manoux as Excited Alien
Alan Rickman as Alexander Dane/Dr. Lazarus of Tev'Meck

Produced by Suzann Ellis, Sona Gourgouris (co-producer), Mark Johnson, Charles Newirth.
Original music by David Newman
Cinematography by Jerzy Zielinski
Film Editing by Don ZimmermaN

Rated PG for some action violence, mild language and sensuality.

The show has been canceled...
but the adventure is just beginning.
"Never give up, never surrender!"
The story concerns the cast of a Star Trek type show. For four years, the crew of the NSEA Protector donned their uniforms and set off on thrilling and often dangerous missions in space--then their series was canceled. Twenty years later, the five stars of the classic '70s TV series Galaxy Quest are still in costume, making appearances at science fiction conventions for their legions of die-hard fans.
Tim Allen is perfect in his role as the "Captain Kirk" type character. In fact, all the actors do a great job as the crew. The film is fun to watch. Our whole family went to see it. We had a great time. Dreamworks has a winner with this film.

Particularly interesting is the Lt. Tawny Madison character played by Sigourney Weaver. Tawny is the mindless busty babe character --a sort of anti-Riley type of her Alien movie series. Weaver, in fact, wears a blonde wig for the role. Great casting here and throughout the whole picture.

At one of the convention shows the actors meet some fans who turn out to be actual aliens from outer space. A sort of "Close Encounter of the Third Kind". This group of aliens have mistaken intercepted television transmissions for actual "historical documents" --they know nothing of acting (make believe) in their culture, and so, believe that the televised dramas are true events.
They arrive at a convention to whisk "Commander Peter Quincy Taggart" (Tim Allen) and his crew into space to help them in their all-too-real war against a deadly adversary.

The screenplay does a wonderful job of blurring the difference between performance and real life. (Interestingly, the movie "Man on the Moon" --released at the same time as this film-- blurs that line, too)

The fans at the convention are portrayed as blurring the line, as well. They dress in the costumes of the TV show and adopt show related character names. A good film to watch in this regard is the documentary about the Star Trek fans called TREKKIES (available on video).

There is a real connectedness between the stories and myth of our culture and the lives we live as a culture. A recent poll revealed that a great percentage of us actually have imaginary talks with famous movie stars. During the 70s the Farrah Fawcett hairdo was all the rage. In the 1934 when Clark Gable took his shirt off in "It Happened One Night" revealing a bare chest, sales of undershirts dropped 30%. In the 80s when Kim Basinger wore a black slip in 9 1/2 weeks, department stores could not keep up with the demand. Today we no longer quote Shakespeare, we quote movies.

Our cultural myths and popular stories give us the context in which we live our lives. The stories we pay attention to, really matter.

The alien monster characters were created by the folks at Skywalker Ranch. This film is like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Star Trek, Star Wars and Aliens all coming together in what director Dean Parisot terms a Wizard of Oz type story. Everything in this film has been done before. No matter, however, because it works in a truly fun way. Our culture is the best at retelling old stories in new ways. We are the masters at sequels, remakes, combinations, and general all around recycling! As the good book says, "There is nothing new under the sun."

During the production of this movie Dean Parisot told the actors to think "Wizard of Oz." We use old stories as a context for new stories. In Galaxy Quest each of the main characters lack something --just like in the Wizard of Oz-- which they find on the journey.

In the story, the make-believe crew of the Protector with no script, no director, and no clue about real interstellar travel, have to turn in the performances of their lives to become the heroes the aliens believe them to be.

How do they do this? They blurred the line between fantasy and real life. They let story inform life. They were transformed by third own stories. In this sense, this film becomes a very profound statement and reflection of our own culture. Which brings us to the question:

What stories furnish you the context of your life?
What stories are in the process of transforming your life?

Bulletin Board:

LOT'S WIFE
Subject: Galaxy Quest
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001
From: "Sorge"

What I noticed most in this movie that sort of followed the Bible was when the crew were escaping from the hostile alien "Minors". Jason (Lot) tells his crew (family) not to look back at the danger behind them (in this case cannibal aliens). But Gwen (Lot's Wife) looks back. Pretty much the only difference I see is that she didn't turn to salt.

TREKKIES
Subject: Another source for you to consult
Date: Fri, 04 Aug 2000
From: Joe Admire

First, I haven't seen "Galaxy Quest" yet, but after reading your review, I intend to hie me down to Hollywood Video and grab me a copy. Just one little detail (which you and half the other visitors to this site have probably already noticed): the uniforms worn by NSEA Protector's crew are obviously derived from those worn by Enterprise-D's crew in ST:TNG. Anyway, the other source I wanted to recommend is a book called _The Making of the Trek Conventions_ (I *think* that's the title) by Joan Winston. Since you mentioned the documentary "Trekkies", I thought you would be interested in this book (while long out of print, you should be able to find it through a good used-book search service such as Bibliofind.com). The relevance here is that the Star Trek conventions, IMO, started the whole modern fandom subculture - although science-fiction fans had had, for many years beforehand, their World Science Fiction Conventions, and still do - and this book is a fascinating (sorry about stealing the word, Spock) look at the first such conventions in the early-to-mid-1970's. I think you'd really enjoy reading it if you could find it and it'd give you some grist for your article mill. (I'd offer to send you my own copy, but I'd insist on having it back when you're done. :) )
-Joe- (jadmire@monumental.com)

FROM SELF CENTERED TO OTHER CENTERED
Subject: lots here
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000
From: Pat and Jerry Westfall aranch@jps.net

I just was informed about your site. I loved Galaxy Quest. Saw it several times and it just got better. Tim Allen was the original draw. He was so natural, human on his tv series. I think the aliens should have received some kind of award for their incredible body language and verbal language skills. What I saw in this movie was the following. The crew went from self-centeredness to other-centeredness. And when they began to care for others (the aliens, each other) it spread. Also, when someone (aliens) believed in them, the crew rose up to become their best selves. To be so loved was transforming. And then when Tim Allen became a listener, a respecter of the teen boy's wisdom, he grew in humility. Near death experiences resulted in renewed appreciation for life. Lots more there. "Never give up" could be seen as "I can do ALL things thru Christ, and thru having faith. I love this stuff.

Thanks for your web site. My husband and I use clips from contemporary films to illustrate points in our workshops (men's, and marriage.) For example: on how having a sense of purpose and destiny can transform us -- Tom Hanks in Joe vs. the Volcano. On being made in our Father's image-- Lion King. On getting our identity from who we are, not what we do --- Frisco Kid. We agree, there is a new spirituality in Hollywood. What an answer to decades of prayer.
Pat and Jerry Westfall aranch@jps.net


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