Rated PG - Running Time: 1:44 - Released 12/25/99

For fans of Star Trek, Dean Parisot's Galaxy Quest cannot fail to please. Parisot and his writers, Robert Gordon and David Howard, have created a spoof of the highest order, full of hilarious characters and situations, with plenty of subtle references for those who are in the know. And even if you've never seen a Gene Roddenberry creation, it's still a hoot.

Galaxy Quest not only pokes fun at Star Trek and all its foam-rubber-wearing aliens, its bad acting, contrived plot elements and flimsy set pieces, it also gives a healthy jab to those legions of rabid Trekkie fans who jam into huge arenas dressed in authentic costumes and uttering Vulcan salutations, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of their idols from the show. In fact, that's how the story begins. Actor Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), who plays Commander Peter Quincy Taggart on the once-popular (now canceled) Galaxy Quest TV show, and his band of fellow actors are busy signing autographs at such a convention. While Jason is flattered by the fans' admiration, his supporting cast is not so thrilled, mainly because this seems to be the only work they can get since the show's been canceled. When a strange little man dressed as an alien named Mathesar (Enrico Colantoni) asks Jason for his counsel in dealing with an alien foe, he assumes the man is simply role-playing and wants him and his crew to appear at another gig.

What Jason and his fellow actors don't know is that Mathesar is a real alien, he's in real trouble (with a green, slimy character named Saris and his legion of henchmen), and he's got a real spaceship on which he expects to transport Cmdr. Taggart and his crew to deep space to deal with the problem. The members of Mathesar's race, the Thurmians, have replicated to the last detail the ship seen on Galaxy Quest, the NSEA Protector, based on the "historical documentation" taken from the show itself. It seems they intercepted the signal and mistook the show for the real-life adventures of an advanced spacefaring vessel. Soon Jason and his fellow actors find themselves on the ship, careening through space, and being expected to save the galaxy. For real.

What makes this such a hysterical outing are the various characterizations of the "crew," which are obviously based in no small part on the actors from Trek. Allen's portrayal of Taggart, the swaggering, cocksure captain, is, of course, reminiscent of William Shatner's Kirk. Heading the supporting cast is Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver, in a hilarious departure from her Ripley character in the Alien series), who plays Lt. Tawny Madison. Tawny's role on the ship is ostensibly to communicate with the computer (which seems unnecessary since the computer speaks clearly and understands everything said to it without an interpreter), but more importantly, she's there to toss her blonde mane and show off her considerable cleavage. Alan Rickman is hysterical as classically trained actor Alexander Dane, who is saddled with the role of alien crew member Dr. Lazarus, forced to wear rubber headgear and utter the same insipid line on every show: "By Grabthar's hammer, you will be avenged!" Rickman's Dane is perpetually resentful at his lot in life, playing second banana to Jason, who gets all the credit and all the accolades. Also on the crew is Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub) as Tech Sargeant Chen, Tommy Webber (Daryl Mitchell) as young Lt. Laredo, and Guy Fleegman (Sam Rockwell), as the "Guy Who Gets Killed." On the show, that is.

Though some parts of Galaxy Quest get a little too real for a lighthearted comedy, it is mostly a riot. ****½

Copyright 1999 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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