It’s tough to call “Galaxy Quest” a cult hit. It was a box office success back when it hit theatres ten years ago. It grossed $70 million off a budget of $45 million but that actually puts it in a weird middle ground. It doesn’t have the ardent cult following that boosted films like “The Big Lebowski” or “Fight Club” and when you have any film led by Tim Allen, the gut reaction appears to be “Well that’s forgettable, at best.”
But no matter how you want to gauge the film’s popularity, DreamWorks has rightfully seen fit to issue it a deluxe edition that’s superior to their original issue of the DVD in just about every way.
For those that have never seen “Galaxy Quest” (and it depresses me to think of how many of you there might be…), the story is a divine creative spark where the has-been stars of a “Star Trek”-style TV show are beamed aboard a real spaceship by an alien race that thinks the TV show was historical footage and the actors are truly their character and the last hope to save the aliens from destruction by a rival, warlike alien species.
Despite the brilliant premise, “Galaxy Quest” walks a very thin tightrope. To cast someone as mainstream as Tim Allen in a film that would most appeal to geeks and outsiders (because at the end of the day, “Galaxy Quest” is a big inside joke and it works best with those that can spot the tropes) in a film that could easily become too self-conscious, too self-aware (while requiring that awareness for the humor), and, worst of all, approach the narrative with condescending derision rather than absolute love. It’s why films like “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” work so well: there’s an intimacy with the material that acknowledges the silliness but uses that as reason for celebration rather than scorn.
A lot of that love comes from the cast. Tim Allen is unusually good as lead actor/captain Jason Nesmith and Allen channels William Shatner’s bravado without doing a Shatner or Kirk impression. He also mixes it with the necessary sadness of an actor who’s finally forced to grow up and actually share the nobility of his character rather than the just the glory. But it’s the inspired casting of the supporting roles that never ceases to amaze me. Having Sigourney Weaver, freaking Ellen Ripley, play the actor playing the sci-fi bimbo is just so deliciously meta without ever once stopping the show to say “Hey! It’s Ripley!” Then there’s Alan Rickman, a man who needs to do more comedy. He just does pained-and-droll so well that even the “Harry Potter” films, where he’s supposed to be an antagonistic figure, have turned him into a form of comic relief.
There’s just not a weak link and every time I watch the movie, I have a fierce debate with myself about who ends up stealing the film (my top choices are Sam Rockwell, Tony Shaloub, or Enrico Colantoni). Everyone in this movie understands how to walk the very fine line of appreciation without turning it into parody.
“Galaxy Quest” is a film I appreciate more and more with every viewing and until it hits Blu-Ray, this is the must-own version. Both the visuals and the audio are greatly improved and there’s a wealth of new featurettes (and yes, the “Thermian-language track” remains included) which veer a little on the fluff-piece/EPK-side but since it’s done as retrospective, it’s nice to see the cast and crew reflect so fondly on a film that’s been scrapping for the attention it deserves ever since it hit theatres ten years ago. But since we share their positivity, it’s nice to have them point out the film’s many, many great qualities.
“Galaxy Quest: Deluxe Edition” is presented in Widescreen Enhanced fro 16:9 TVs, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Special Features include “Historical Documents: The Story of Galaxy Quest”, “Never Give Up, Never Surrender: The Intrepid Crew of the NSEA Protector”, “By Grabthar’s Hammer, What Amazing Effects”, “Alien School: Creating the Thermian Race”, “Actors in Space”, “Sigourney Weaver Raps” (Matt’s note: this short bonus feature is much better than it sounds), Deleted Scenes, Thermian Audio Track, and the theatrical trailer.
Rating —– A