Galaxy Quest is a 1999 American comic science fiction film directed by Dean Parisot and written by David Howard and Robert Gordon. A parody of science fiction films and series, particularly Star Trek and its fandom, the film stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell as the cast of a defunct cult television series called Galaxy Quest, in which the crew of a spaceship embarked on intergalactic adventures, who are suddenly visited by actual aliens who believe the series to be an accurate documentary, and become involved in a very real intergalactic conflict.
The film was a modest box office success and was positively received by critics: it won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (an award previously won by the original Star Trek series in the 1960s) and the Nebula Award for Best Script, and was also nominated for ten Saturn Awards, including Best Science Fiction Film, Best Director for Parisot, Best Actress for Weaver, and Best Supporting Actor for Rickman, with Allen winning Best Actor.
Galaxy Quest went on to achieve cult status through the years, particularly from Star Trek fans for its affectionate parody, but also to more mainstream audiences as a comedy film of its own. Several former cast and crew members of Star Trek also went on to praise the film. It was included in Reader's Digest's list of The Top 100+ Funniest Movies of All Time in 2012, while Star Trek fans voted it the seventh best Star Trek film of all time in 2013.
The former cast of the cult television space-adventure series Galaxy Quest spend most of their days attending fan conventions and promotional stunts. Though Jason Nesmith, the series' former lead star, thrives on the attention, the other cast members — Gwen DeMarco, Alexander Dane, Fred Kwan and Tommy Webber, resent Nesmith's irresponsible and self-serving attitude.
During a convention, Nesmith is approached by a group calling themselves Thermians, led by Mathesar, who request his help; believing this to be a scheduled fan event, he agrees to be picked up the next morning. Nesmith is unaware that the Thermians are really aliens, tentacled beings using human holographic disguises. Nesmith is hungover when he is picked up, and falls asleep as they take him through space to a exact, functional version of the NSEA Protector, the starship from Galaxy Quest. Still hazy, Nesmith proceeds to give orders as captain, directing them to strike on Sarris, a warlord that seeks to eliminate the Thermians. Only when Nesmith is transported back to Earth does he realize that the ship is real.
Nesmith eagerly explains the events of the previous day to his cast members, but they consider it part of his drunken ramblings. When Laliari, another Thermian, appears and requests Nesmith's help further, he convinces the cast including their handler Guy Fleegman, who cameoed as a redshirt in an episode, to join him. Once aboard the Protector, they are astonished by the ship, and stumble with the controls, as the Thermians only built the ship to the show's specifications but do not know how to operate it. When Sarris attacks again, they evade through a magnetic minefield and take heavy damage, disabling their power core.
The humans take a shuttle to a nearby planet to recover a new power core, having to deal with its hostile native lifeforms. By the time they return, they find that Sarris has taken over the Protector. Sarris discovers that the Thermians, having no sense of fiction, took Galaxy Quest as a documentary, and Nesmith is forced to explain they are actors to Mathesar. Sarris sets the self-destruct mechanism and leaves a sacrificial guard aboard while he returns to his ship. Nesmith and Dane use a tactic from the show to overpower their guards and free the others. While the cast and Thermian crew make repairs and familiarize themselves with the ship, Nesmith and DeMarco travel through the bowels of the ship to shut off the self-destruct sequence, aided over a misplaced Thermian communicator by superfan Brandon and his friends on Earth with detailed knowledge of the show.
With the ship repaired, Nesmith leads his cast and the Thermians to attack Sarris' ship with the magnetic mines, destroying it. The crew prepares to head home through a black hole and leaving Mathesar in command, with Nesmith giving him confidence that the Thermians can run the ship. Suddenly Sarris, who had teleported onto the Protector just before his ship was destroyed, appears on the bridge and attacks them. Nesmith activates "Omega-13", a plot device from the show that reverts time back 13 seconds, giving him opportunity to knock out Sarris when he first appears. The cast say their goodbyes, though Laliari, who has fallen in love with Kwan, goes with the cast.
The command module is flung back to Earth, but the cast have no indicators where to land. Brandon and his friends set off fireworks near a convention center to guide them. The module comes to a crash landing, breaking through the center's wall into an auditorium, and as the crew exit the module, the gathered fans assume this is part of the act. Sarris wakes up and attempts to fire on the cast, but Nesmith is able to vaporize him with a weapon. The fans cheer in excitement.
Some time later, a revival of Galaxy Quest is announced, with the same cast, including Fleegman and Laliari.
The original script by David Howard was titled Captain Starshine and written on spec. Producer Mark Johnson, who had a first look deal with DreamWorks, did not like it, but was still fascinated with its concept featuring space aliens who misconstrue old episodes of a television series. Johnson purchased the script and had Bob Gordon rewrite it into Galaxy Quest. A fan of Star Trek, Gordon was hesitant, believing Galaxy Quest "could be a great idea or it could be a terrible idea" and initially turned it down. He submitted his first draft to DreamWorks in 1998, which was immediately greenlit.
Rickman's character was originally supposed to have been knighted by Elizabeth II before the events of the film. Rickman requested this to be changed, as he felt that it would not fit Dane's sentiment of lack of recognition; the character is still credited as "Sir Alexander Dane" in the credits, although all mentions of being a knight have been removed from the film. The Thermians' native planet, Klaatu Nebula, is a reference to the name of the alien visitor in the classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).
The romantic relationship between Fred Kwan and the alien Laliari comes from a suggestion of Steven Spielberg, one of the owners of DreamWorks, impressed by Missi Pyle while visiting the set, to expand Missi Pyle's role in the film.
Since early in the production, Mark Johnson wanted Dean Parisot, who had directed Home Fries, another film he produced, to direct Galaxy Quest; however, DreamWorks favored Harold Ramis because of his experience. Ramis was hired in November 1998, but departed in February 1999 because of casting difficulties. He wanted Alec Baldwin for the lead role, but Baldwin turned it down. Steve Martin and Kevin Kline were considered, though Kline turned it down for family reasons. Ramis did not agree with the casting of Tim Allen as Jason Nesmith, and Parisot took over as director within three weeks. After seeing the film, Ramis said he was ultimately impressed with Allen's performance. About his role, Allen stated that he based his performance on Yul Brynner instead of William Shatner.
Linda DeScenna, production designer of the film, was interested in the project because it would not have the same aesthetics than other 1990s science fiction films, and "it didn’t have to be real, hi-tech and vacuformed". The design of the Thermian station was influenced by the works of artist Roger Dean, particularly his cover art for the Yes live album Yessongs (1973).
The makers of the film wanted only "science fiction virgins" who had never worked in this genre to audition for Gwen DeMarco's role. Famous for science fiction roles such as Ellen Ripley in the Alien films and Dana Barrett in the Ghostbusters films, Weaver auditioned nonetheless because she wanted to work with both Allen and Rickman, and because she "fell in love with the script", calling it "that great sort of Wizard of Oz story of these people feeling so incomplete in the beginning, and then during the course of this adventure, they come out almost like the heroes they pretended to be in the first place"; she was surprised when discovering she actually got the role.
Tony Shalhoub originally auditioned for Guy Fleegman, but Sam Rockwell won the role, and Shalhoub was cast as Fred Kwan instead. Justin Long said he was nervous auditioning as an unknown actor at the time, competing against Kieran Culkin, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Tom Everett Scott for the role of Brandon. Paul Rudd auditioned for a role, while David Alan Grier was the second choice for Tommy Webber. The film was Justin Long's acting debut, and Rainn Wilson's film debut (his only previous credit was the soap opera One Life to Live).
According to casting director Debra Zane, finding an actress to play the role of Laliari was very hard, as they had "a difficult time finding a woman who could be Thermian in the same way as actors Enrico Colantoni, Rainn Wilson and Jed Rees". Ultimately, when she auditioned Missi Pyle, she was so impressed that she sent the audition tape directly to Parisot, with a note stating "If this is not Laliari, I will resign from the CSA." Steven Spielberg later asked for Laliari's role to be expanded after being impressed by her performance as well. Jennifer Coolidge was the second choice for the role.
Both Allen and Rockwell almost dropped out of the film; Allen had to choose between Galaxy Quest and Bicentennial Man and chose the first, with his Bicentennial Man role going to Robin Williams instead, while Rockwell almost backed out of the film after obtaining a lead role in an independent film; Kevin Spacey convinced him otherwise.
Scenes on the barren planet where they stopped to get a new Beryllium Sphere and Captain Nesmith battled a rock monster, were filmed at Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. At the time, the access to Goblin Valley State Park was partly by dirt road; the fees paid by the production company were used to upgrade the entire access road to asphalt pavement.
According to Weaver, Allen kept hectoring her during production so she would sign a piece he owned of the Nostromo, the spaceship in Alien, in which she starred; she ultimately did, writing "Stolen by Tim Allen; Love, Sigourney Weaver", which she said made him very upset. During the period of filming, the entire cast attended a 20th anniversary screening of Alien. After filming completed, Weaver kept the wig she wore for the role.
In theaters, the first twenty minutes of the film were presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, before changing to a wider 2.35:1 ratio when the spaceship lands on Thermia to maximise the effect on viewers. David Newman composed the music score.
The film originally received an "R" rating, according to Galaxy Quest producer Lindsey Collins and Sigourney Weaver, before being re-cut. Shalhoub did not remember any darker version of the film. There were numerous edits in the film that show some lines were changed in post-production. In one scene, Gwen DeMarco's line "Well, screw that!" is clearly dubbed over "Well, fuck that!" According to Parisot, that line got a huge laugh. There is more profanity found in the shooting script.
Before the release of the movie, a promotional mockumentary video titled Galaxy Quest: 20th Anniversary, The Journey Continues, aired on E!, presenting the Galaxy Quest television series as an actual cult series, and the upcoming film as a documentary about the making of the series, presenting it in a similar way to Star Trek; it featured fake interviews of the series' cast (portrayed by the actors of the actual film), "Questerians", and critics.
Galaxy Quest is an acknowledged homage to Star Trek; therefore a variety of elements in the former correspond to those of the latter.[original research?] The television program within the film, Galaxy Quest, is set around the starship NSEA Protector, an instrument of the National Space Exploration Administration, which are parodies of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) and Starfleet respectively.[original research?] The prefix of the Protector's registration number NTE-3120 ostensibly alludes to some sort of similar space federation, but in reality stands for "Not The Enterprise", according to visual effects co-supervisor Bill George in a 2000 interview with Cinefex magazine.
This homage also extended to the original marketing of the movie, including a promotional website intentionally designed to look like a poorly constructed fan website, with "screen captures" and poor HTML coding. The homage even parodied the effect that Star Trek had on the social lives of its cast members, such as how Alexander Dane (played by Alan Rickman) has been typecast after his success on the Galaxy Quest television series; this reflects the lamentations of Leonard Nimoy, who had been typecast after his performance as Spock.
Additionally, the time between the original Galaxy Quest series and its sequel, Galaxy Quest: The Journey Continues is 17 years - the same amount of time that elapsed between the original Star Trek series and Star Trek: The Next Generation.[original research?]
The film's visual effects were created by Industrial Light & Magic, which have a long history with Star Trek. It is said that while fans were pleased with the film, Paramount Pictures (which ironically would later gain rights to the film via its 2005 purchase of DreamWorks) was somewhat less so, and chose to express their displeasure by replacing ILM with Blue Sky and Digital Domain respectively for the final two films in the Next Generation series: Insurrection and Nemesis.
The film was financially successful. It earned US$7,012,630 in its opening weekend, and its total U.S. domestic tally stands at US$71,583,916; in total it has grossed US$90,683,916 worldwide.
Galaxy Quest received positive reviews from critics, both as a parody of Star Trek, and as a comedy film of its own. On Rotten Tomatoes, it received an approval rating of 90% based on 115 reviews and an average rating of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Intelligent and humorous satire with an excellent cast – no previous Trekkie knowledge needed to enjoy this one." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 70 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The New York Times's Lawrence Van Gelder called it "an amiable comedy that simultaneously manages to spoof these popular futuristic space adventures and replicate the very elements that have made them so durable". Roger Ebert praised the ability of the film to spoof the "illogic of the TV show". The Village Voice offered a lukewarm review, noting that "the many eight- to 11-year-olds in the audience seemed completely enthralled".
|List of awards and nominations|
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s)||Result|
|Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival||April 13, 2000||Silver Scream Award||Dean Parisot||Won|
|Artios Awards||November 1, 2000||Best Casting for Feature Film, Comedy||Debra Zane||Nominated|
|Blockbuster Entertainment Awards||May 9, 2000||Favorite Actor - Comedy||Tim Allen||Nominated|
|Favorite Actress - Comedy||Sigourney Weaver||Nominated|
|Brussels International Festival of Fantastic Film||April 1, 2000||Silver Raven for Best Screenplay||David Howard||Won|
|Pegasus Audience Award||Dean Parisot||Won|
|Hochi Film Awards||December 27, 2001||Best Foreign Language Film||Dean Parisot||Won|
|Hugo Awards||September 4, 2001||Best Dramatic Presentation||Dean Parisot, David Howard and Robert Gordon||Won|
|Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards||January 18, 2000||Best Visual Effects||Bill George||Nominated|
|Nebula Awards||April 28, 2001||Best Script||David Howard and Robert Gordon||Nominated|
|Saturn Awards||June 6, 2000||Best Science Fiction Film||Galaxy Quest||Nominated|
|Best Director||Dean Parisot||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Tim Allen||Won|
|Best Actress||Sigourney Weaver||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Alan Rickman||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Younger Actor||Justin Long||Nominated|
|Best Music||David Newman||Nominated|
|Best Costume||Albert Wolsky||Nominated|
|Best Make-up||Stan Winston, Hallie D'Amore and Ve Neill||Nominated|
|Best Special Effects||Stan Winston, Bill George, Kim Bromley and Robert Stadd||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||August 6, 2000||Choice Movie – Comedy||Galaxy Quest||Nominated|
The film proved quite popular with Star Trek fans. At the 2013 Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas, Galaxy Quest received enough support in a Star Trek Film Ranking, and was included with the twelve Star Trek films that had been released at the time on the voting ballot. The fans at the convention ranked it the seventh best Star Trek film.
Harold Ramis, who was originally supposed to direct the film but left following disagreements over the casting choices, notably Allen as the lead, was ultimately impressed with Allen's performance. Tim Allen later stated that he and William Shatner were "now friends because of this movie".
Several actors who have had roles on various Star Trek television series and films have commented on Galaxy Quest in light of their own experiences with the franchise and its fandom.
"I had originally not wanted to see Galaxy Quest because I heard that it was making fun of Star Trek, and then Jonathan Frakes rang me up and said "You must not miss this movie! See it on a Saturday night in a full theatre". And I did, and of course I found it was brilliant. Brilliant. No one laughed louder or longer in the cinema than I did, but the idea that the ship was saved and all of our heroes in that movie were saved simply by the fact that there were fans who did understand the scientific principles on which the ship worked was absolutely wonderful. And it was both funny and also touching in that it paid tribute to the dedication of these fans." — Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard on TNG)
"I thought it was very funny, and I thought the audience that they portrayed was totally real, but the actors that they were pretending to be were totally unrecognizable. Certainly I don't know what Tim Allen was doing. He seemed to be the head of a group of actors, and for the life of me I was trying to understand who he was imitating. The only one I recognized was the girl playing Nichelle Nichols." — William Shatner (James T. Kirk on TOS)
"I loved Galaxy Quest. I thought it was brilliant satire, not only of Trek, but of fandom in general. The only thing I wish they had done was cast me in it, and have me play a freaky fanboy who keeps screaming at the actor who played 'the kid' about how awful it was that there was a kid on the spaceship. Alas." — Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher on TNG)
"I think it's a chillingly realistic documentary. [laughs] The details in it, I recognized every one of them. It is a powerful piece of documentary filmmaking. And I do believe that when we get kidnapped by aliens, it's going to be the genuine, true Star Trek fans who will save the day. … I was rolling in the aisles. And [star] Tim Allen had that Shatner-esque swagger down pat. And I roared when the shirt came off, and [co-star] Sigourney [Weaver] rolls her eyes and says, 'There goes that shirt again.' … How often did we hear that on the set? [Laughs]" — George Takei (Hikaru Sulu on TOS)
Talks of a sequel have been going on since the film's release in 1999, but only began gaining traction in 2014 when Allen mentioned that there was a script. Stars Weaver and Rockwell mentioned they were interested in returning. However, Colantoni has stated that he would prefer for there not to be a sequel, lest it tarnish the characters from the first film. He said, "to make something up, just because we love those characters, and turn it into a sequel—then it becomes the awful sequel".
In April 2015, Paramount Television, along with the movie's co-writer Gordon, director Parisot, and executive producers Johnson and Bernstein, announced they were looking to develop a television series based on Galaxy Quest. The move was considered in a similar vein as Paramount's revivals of Minority Report and School of Rock as television series. In August 2015, it was announced that Amazon Studios would be developing it.
I'm not supposed to say anything — I'm speaking way out of turn here — but Galaxy Quest is really close to being resurrected in a very creative way. It's closer than I can tell you but I can't say more than that. The real kicker is that Alan now has to be left out. It's been a big shock on many levels.
Speaking to the Nerdist podcast in April 2016, Sam Rockwell revealed that the cast had been about ready to sign on for a follow up with Amazon, but that Rickman's death, together with Allen's television schedule, had proved to be obstacles, and that he believed that Rickman's death meant the project would never happen.
However, the plans were revived in August 2017, with the announcement that Paul Scheer will be writing the series. Speaking to /Film, Scheer said that in his first drafts submitted to Amazon in November 2017, he wanted to created a serialized adventure that starts where the film ends, but leads into the cultural shift in Star Trek that has occurred since 1999; he said "I really wanted to capture the difference between the original cast of Star Trek and the J. J. Abrams cast of Star Trek." To that end, Scheer's initial scripts called for two separate cast sets that would come together by the end of first season of the show, though did not confirm if this included any of the original film's cast.
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