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Galaxy Quest

GALAXY QUEST
Rated PG
Starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shaloub and Sam Rockwell

CineSight Rating ** 1/2

In this good-natured spoof of the popular Star Trek franchise, the Galaxy Quest TV show has been in reruns for almost 20 years, but the fervor of the fans is ever new. Legions of 'Questarians', many in full costume, throng to the conventions to catch a glimps of their heroes: Commander Peter Quincy Taggert (Allen), Lt. Tawny Madison (Weaver), Dr. Lazarus (Rickman) and Tech. Sgt. Chen (Shaloub).

However, all is not well in the Galaxy Quest universe. Dr. Lazarus A.K.A. actor Alexander Dane is sick of being typecast, and longs for a real acting job again. Like Leonard Nimoy and his Spock character, Dane wants to distance himself from the show and return to Shakespearian roles. Egotistical Jason Nesmith, who plays the egotistical Taggert, still revels in being star of the show. Meanwhile Gwen DeMarco/Madison and Fred Kwan/Chen are stuck in the middle, resigned to the fact that they'll probably tour conventions and appear at store openings until retirement.

All that changes with the appearance of an especially nerdy group of 'fans', who introduce themselves as representatives of the planet Thermia. Thinking they are being asked to make another guest appearance at some event, our heroes are whisked off to a replica of their ship, The Protector, from the TV show... except this one really flies.

Apparently the Thermians have mistaken Galaxy Quest for historical fact. Rather than opening a mall, the Galaxy Quest crew are required to negotiate a peace treaty between the Thermians and a particularly nasty alien bug named Sarris. Without realizing it, our heroes accidentally escalate the situation into full-scale war. They now have the opportunity to tell the truth and admit to being merely actors, or they can try to be heroes for real.

GALAXY QUEST manages to capture the ethos of the Star Trek franchise; its campy scripts and catch-phrases, gadgets and techno-babble, even the poor 'red shirts' - the unnamed crew members who always die just after arriving on whatever alien planet is visited. It also pokes good-natured fun at the cast and fans of the series, picking on their eccentricities or flaws but never quite ridiculing them. Although GALAXY QUEST may be most enjoyable for Trekkies or those familiar with the show, just about anyone can appreciate the broad comedy and cool spaceships.

While the story is a little on the thin side, very reminiscent of Steve Martin's THREE AMIGOS, the highlight here is the lead performances. After much practice at space-rangering in two TOY STORY movies, Tim Allen has the part down perfectly. And in a radical departure from her alien-busting Ripley, Weaver's Madison is the exact opposite - the buxom blond whose job is to repeat everything the ship's computer says. A very dour Alan Rickman is disgusted by life in general, and by the braggard Taggert in particular. Shaloub plays Chen, the Scotty character, as a clueless nincompoop - someone you wouldn't ask to watch your kids, never mind overseeing the engine room of a starship. Finally, Sam Rockwell completes the crew as the 'red shirt' who is convinced he's about to die throughout the movie.

Among the current crop of millenial disaster movies, pseudo-spiritual thrillers and overly long Oscar hopefuls filling the theaters this holiday season, GALAXY QUEST is a bright star in the movie-going universe.