Galaxy Quest

     Here's a movie that plays with the distinction between reality and artifice in a very fun way. The title television show was a sci-fi epic that aired many years ago and was very similar to the original "Star Trek" series. In fact the movie is pretty clearly a good-natured satirical thrust at the whole Star Trek franchise--the show, the cast, the fans, etc. The movie strikes just the right balance--it's not critical or sarcastic enough to insult anybody, but neither is the humor so esoteric that only fans will get the jokes. Although, of course, it's even funnier if you're a nerd, so if you've been waiting for the day when your status as a nerd would come in handy, this is your movie. Like "Star Trek," "Galaxy Quest" has been cancelled, and now the washed-up cast can only get jobs playing their old characters at conventions and the occasional public appearance. But it turns out some not-so-bright aliens picked up the television broadcasts of the show and mistook them for historical records--thus they think the "Galaxy Quest" crew are the real thing, and they have built a starship based on the sets and the technology described in the TV show. Now they're calling upon the actors to help them save their race, as well as the rest of the universe, from ruthless aliens. The expected wackiness ensues. It's not the most promising premise, but the movie turns out to be surprisingly funny. Tony Shalhoub (Big Night) is especially amusing as the spaced-out engineer, but the rest of the cast, which includes Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman, is also great.

Jim Genzano

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