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Galaxy Quest

Galaxy Quest is essentially a 102-minute joke — but dammit, it's a funny one, and it probably was a long time coming. You don't necessary have to be a viewer of the many Star Trek television series and films to enjoy Galaxy Quest, but if you are, the laugh-rate zooms to several guffaws per minute, as the undeniably Trek--ish cast of fictional TV show "Galaxy Quest" — who spent years flying around on the NSEA Protector before getting shunted off to re-run land — now earn their paychecks turning up at geek-strewn conventions, fervent revival meetings for the already-converted masses. Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), who played Commander Peter Quincy Taggert, can't get enough of the road-shows, where he is smothered with the adoration of zit-faced fans, but his fellow actors (Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shaloub, Daryl Mitchell, Sam Rockwell) are long fed-up with his egomania. So what are they to think when Nesmith is abducted by a genuine group of aliens — the Thermians, lead by Mathesar (a very funny Enrico Colantoni) — who have studied the "historical documents" of "Galaxy Quest" and now seek the legendary crew's protection from the evil, reptilian Sarris? True to form, Nesmith loves the idea of playing out his character for real, but his fellow thespians (soon abducted as well) hate their commander's guts — at least when they aren't terrified out of their wits. Think you know your Star Trek? Galaxy Quest director Dean Parisot and scenarist David Howard do too — everything from the lame fight sequences of the original series to the goofy pseudo-science of the Next Generation — and even, it seems, many of the deeply entrenched grudges between Trek cast members that are now legendary to die-hard fans. Allen, thanks to a long run on ABC-TV's Home Improvement, is a well-known comedic actor even though he's just done a handful of films up to now, and Galaxy Quest is a great fit for his alternately self-important and exasperated style (in fact, his timing chops here suggest a younger Chevy Chase — back when Chase actually had a film career). Weaver, well-known for her Alien stint, looks like she's having fun deflating the sci-fi genre, and Rickman dresses down pompous stage actors as only a really talented actor could. Galaxy Quest is the perfect Saturday night special for your DVD player, best spun with popcorn and friends, and DreamWorks has fitted out their DVD edition with a few extras, including a behind-the-scenes featurette (with a look at the special effects from Industrial Light and Magic and animation legend Stan Winston), a "mockumentary," a trailer, and cast and crew notes. Anamorphic widescreen transfer, booming 5.1 mix. Keep-case.

(Editor's note: Galaxy Quest is available on DVD in both Dolby Digital and DTS editions.)

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