Happy 20th Anniversary Galaxy Quest! Why weren't you a bigger hit?
December 29, 2019 8:11 PM   Subscribe

DreamWorks "Screwed Up" Galaxy Quest (Never Give Up! Never Surrender!) was released 20 years ago on Dec. 25, 1999, but it did not make an immediate splash. “Most films fall off during the second weekend and we were seeing Galaxy Quest climb in its second weekend and climb again during its third weekend,” Parisot says. “Jeffrey (Katzenberg) called me during the second weekend and said, ‘I think we screwed up the advertising for this. I’m sorry.’”

To delve into what really happened on the set of Galaxy Quest and beyond, The Hollywood Reporter spoke with director Dean Parisot, producer Mark Johnson and stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Rockwell, Tony Shalhoub, Justin Long, Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, Enrico Colantoni and Missi Pyle, who reflect on the film’s legacy and future.
posted by pjsky (90 comments total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
 
Screen Junkies recently released a documentary about Galaxy Quest. Never Surrender
posted by acidnova at 8:17 PM on December 29, 2019 [8 favorites]


On preview ^^^

Terrific anecdotes from everyone (alas, not Rickman). That's a good read. I am a Galaxy Quest OG - saw it in theatrical release, owned it immediately when home-released. Isn't there rumors a 'making of'? [Yes]
posted by j_curiouser at 8:35 PM on December 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


I need to dig out my DVD of the movie. I seem to remember hearing or reading that you can watch the entire film dubbed in Thermian.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 8:47 PM on December 29, 2019 [9 favorites]


Your recollection is correct. As you might expect, it's amusing for about a minute.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:49 PM on December 29, 2019 [20 favorites]


I love the casting for this movie, but I would cheerfully recast Tim Allen in a heartbeat. Ideally with George Clooney, but I'd take nearly anyone else.
posted by gladly at 8:54 PM on December 29, 2019 [25 favorites]


Tim Allen playing Shatner is fantastic casting.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:55 PM on December 29, 2019 [49 favorites]


(In conclusion, Tim Allen is a land of contrasts)
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:57 PM on December 29, 2019 [38 favorites]


I didn't know it wasn't a big hit. A bunch of us went to see it opening night because we were so excited about it and it seemed to have a lot of buzz.
posted by octothorpe at 9:04 PM on December 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


What I wouldn’t give to see the “R” rated version that DreamWorks squashed.
posted by pjsky at 9:04 PM on December 29, 2019 [10 favorites]


I love that Fred Kwan was supposed to be asian, but after Tony Shalhoub was cast they kept the name anyway. Reminds me of Raumpatrouille, where the Spaceship Orion's crew all have international names but are played by caucasian Germans.
posted by jabah at 9:07 PM on December 29, 2019 [6 favorites]


What I wouldn’t give to see the “R” rated version that DreamWorks squashed.

I remember a lot of those R-rated scenes they describe in the article being in the DVD extras. The one where the Thermian guide shows Alan Rickman the insane alien toilet in his quarters was hilarious.
posted by UltraMorgnus at 9:14 PM on December 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


Relatedly, I haven't seen it since it came out, but I remember thinking Free Enterprise was pretty funny - at the very least I remember enjoying Shatner's willingness to be self-deprecating.
posted by 99_ at 9:33 PM on December 29, 2019 [7 favorites]


“Miners, not minors!!!”

I saw it on the theater when it came out. I went with a friend who wanted to see it and didn’t know what to expect. The theater was filled with giggling throughout the whole movie, punctuated by huge laughs at many points. The movie was absurd, delightful, hilarious, and just so well done. It’s one of the best times I’ve ever had in a theater. It has been included in some lists ranking all of the Star Trek movies, and rightly so. For those of us raised during the resurgence of Trek, this movie hit all of the notes that ST did, and sometimes hit them far better.
posted by azpenguin at 9:34 PM on December 29, 2019 [18 favorites]


I can confirm that the deleted scenes - or some of them, at least - are on the DVD (mine says "Deluxe Edition" at the top).
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:42 PM on December 29, 2019


This is a lot like when Wierd Al did "Dare to be Stupid" - more Devo than Devo!

Galaxy Quest is my favourite Star Trek. I also did not know it wasn't "big", it is certainly big with me and gets regular replays at chez Meatbomb.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:52 PM on December 29, 2019 [10 favorites]


My brother managed to watch the entire film in Thermian. He was in his late teens at the time so that must have helped.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 9:54 PM on December 29, 2019 [6 favorites]


I finally saw this a couple of years ago, while snowed in with nothing but a pan of brownies, and man I had the best day. I still cannot believe I cheated myself out of having this movie when I was in high school.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:56 PM on December 29, 2019 [4 favorites]


"Well, that was a hell of a thing."
posted by loquacious at 10:11 PM on December 29, 2019 [27 favorites]


It also suffered from a sparse marketing campaign that its key players say left money on the table for the film, which still managed to earn $90.6 million.

OK, right here is how our capitalist dystopia is off the rails. This is not big enough?
posted by Meatbomb at 10:26 PM on December 29, 2019 [10 favorites]


I think the magic of this film is that it's inviting to both the outsider and the insider, and by the end of it has somehow helped the outsider feel like an insider. Its wit and sharpness of writing entirely encompasses the thrill of Trek fandom while also addressing the ridiculousness of it all, and does it in such a warm-hearted way that it's impossible not to fall in love a bit by the end.

It's one of the best things, truly. Easily the Casablanca of SF movies. If it's not being taught in film schools, it should be.
posted by hippybear at 10:48 PM on December 29, 2019 [22 favorites]


I saw this on holidays, dragged my brother to it, and I had a ball, and I'm pretty sure he liked it too. Its legacy is deserved.

It's definitely Tim Allen's best performance, and it's an inspired bit of casting - Tim Allen was successful at the time, but not in a way that was bankable, much like Shatner. He was able to get to the selfishness and entitlement of Jason Nesmith in a way that Clooney probably couldn't.

(According to the FPP, apparently Allen pushed for more authenticity in the sci-fi, which is a key reason why the movie worked, so I have to give him props for that.)
posted by Merus at 11:05 PM on December 29, 2019 [20 favorites]


After seeing the film on release, I became bugged by a vague memory of a short fan-fiction story that I had read many years earlier.

The story, “Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited,” had been published in a relatively forgotten wide-market Bantam paperback, “The New Voyages,” in 1976.

In the story, the core cast of TOS find themselves transported onto the actual NCC-1701, and shenanigans ensue.

I was able to track down a point of contact for the author, Ruth Berman, and via an intermediary she assured me she had seen and loved Galaxy Quest and did not think it inappropriately appropriated from her work, which, she reminded me, was written as an answer story to a previous work of fanfic, “Visit to a Weird Planet,” which I have never encountered in the wild.

I still think Berman deserved a story credit for Galaxy Quest, which I otherwise absolutely adore.
posted by mwhybark at 11:38 PM on December 29, 2019 [23 favorites]


I love this movie so much. As a dramaturg, I feel "This episode was badly written!" and "Whoever wrote this episode should die!!" so deep in my bones. I will drop everything to watch it whenever I come across it. My spouse and I also say "...and it exploded!" more often than I care to admit.

One of my friends from undergrad played one of the nerdy kids who helps save the squad, and I am deeply jealous of him. Apparently Alan Rickman came up to him and his parents at the cast party, supremely inebriated, and insisted that he was too smart for Hollywood, and should leave the film industry immediately and go to a good college instead when the time came. And he did.

Now I just want to watch the movie again.
posted by ilana at 11:47 PM on December 29, 2019 [66 favorites]


Damn, this was the movie I could have put on for the whole family to enjoy this Christmas but it completely slipped my mind. I'll bank it for next time. I saw it at the cinema on release and still it remains an all time favourite. And what a cast. Sam Rockwell realising he has no last name.
posted by Acey at 1:13 AM on December 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


Possibly my fave thing about the movie is its role in keeping a fan understanding of Star Trek alive. From the early eighties onward, it was apparent that Star Trek movies followed an inescapable pattern: the rousing and enjoyable ones alternated with tedious slogs. However, the final two Next Generation films (Insurrection and Nemesis) were both clunky disappointments. But wait — these were released in 1998 and 2002, respectively. So you’d need another Star Trek film in between to make the pattern work. Hey, waitaminit...

Then J.J. got his hands on the property and we realized they could all be tedious slogs.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:42 AM on December 30, 2019 [21 favorites]


I remember very clearly seeing an advertisement on a nyc taxi cab when it came out that made it look like a really cheap scifi film. I shook my head thinking to myself that looks really awful. Maybe that night I read a great review in the Times and a light bulb went off. Rushed to the theater and saw it with my girlfriend.
posted by thirdring at 4:47 AM on December 30, 2019


Easily the Casablanca of SF movies

Interesting claim! Is this just because of its quality? Or is there meta/genre-winking that goes on in Casablanca too?

I think for me the tough call is Galaxy Quest vs Fifth Element.

I almost want to give the nod to Fifth Element because it's comparably eye-catching with the cinematography, but it creates a futurism out of whole cloth that no one had seen before.

I feel like Galaxy Quest is maybe a little tighter in terms of execution, but they're both 10s.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 5:09 AM on December 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


I loved this movie, have seen it so many times, and yet I have no memory whether I first saw it in the theater or not - only that it felt like a discovery that i needed to tell everyone I knew about. And I'm glad they ended up cutting it the way they did - there are so few intelligent movies that are also for kids, and I've loved showing it to mine.

If by any chance you've made it this far into the thread and you haven't seen this movie, and you've ever enjoyed any sort of sci-fi, you need to. It is so good.
posted by Mchelly at 5:23 AM on December 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


I saw Galaxy Quest in the theatre because the movie we intended to see was sold out or playing at the wrong time or something. Really, much better unintentional theatre going than the time I saw the first Harry Potter movie because I went into the wrong theatre with my ticket to see Ocean's 11.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:38 AM on December 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I go between loving this movie and being kind of meh about it because it exists in a kind of superposition where it's simultaneously a loving pastiche written for fans to laugh with and a ruthless parody for non-fans to laugh at. I remember being so annoyed by the fake fan site they put up to promote the movie that I almost didn't go see it in the theater. But when I did see it in the theater, I thought it was pretty good and there were several times where I busted a gut with the Star Trek references.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:49 AM on December 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


" What is this thing? I mean, it serves no useful purpose for there to be a bunch of chompy, crushy things in the middle of a hallway. No, I mean we shouldn't have to do this, it makes no logical sense, why is it here?"

Gwen DeMarco is my absolute favorite character in this film. Just a terrifically funny movie all around.
posted by xingcat at 5:54 AM on December 30, 2019 [15 favorites]


I spent my teens and early 20s attending and volunteering at Star Trek / science fiction conventions.

Those scenes in Galaxy Quest - unlike previous attempts to parody/represent - were so spot on, so perfectly the real experience (silly and serious). I even claim that you can see me - there's one extra with two black braids who is in a shot, and I point at her and say, hey, that's me!
posted by jb at 6:05 AM on December 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


Then J.J. got his hands on the property and we realized they could all be tedious slogs.

I was rewatching Guillermo del Toro's Tales of Arcadia on Netflix because of the release of the third part, "Wizards".

"Trollhunters" starred Anton Yelchin, and is dedicated to him since he committed suicide while it was in production. It's a tragedy, but consider that J.J. Abrams' Star Trek might not be able to make another because they can't recast Pavel Chekov.
posted by mikelieman at 6:39 AM on December 30, 2019


@Meatbomb: near as I can tell, capitalism is all about extracting the most milk with the least moo. Are you sure you’re not thinking of some other economic paradigm?

@Mikelieman: Yelchin was killed in a freak accident. He did NOT commit suicide.
posted by drivingmenuts at 6:40 AM on December 30, 2019 [39 favorites]


mwhybark: I remember that story, too--I got Star Trek: The New Voyages at the time of publication, and recently got a copy of the collection to replace my long-lost original. (It's still available on Amazon for a reasonable price for used; ditto for the sequel.) And, while I agree that there's a lot of things in it that map pretty closely to Galaxy Quest, not only is it derivative of an earlier fan work (not as good, IMO), there's also a crucial difference: the ship that they get taken to isn't the "real" NSEA Protector, it's a loving recreation by the show's ultimate fans, the Thermians, in the manner both of fans recreating sets from TOS and fans-turned-actual-rocket-scientists naming real (and real-ish) spacecraft after the Enterprise. (One of the more interesting bits of speculation around the GQ universe is what sort of starship the Thermians could build if they weren't simply imitating the Protector; after all, they created the Omega 13--an homage to Trek's infamous reset button--without even knowing what it did.) The original story also is derivative of the "Mirror, Mirror" episode, as well. That having been said, it would be neat to have a GQ sequel in which the cast did end up on the quote-endquote real Protector, and had to deal with whatever bureaucracy that the off-brand Federation threw at them to get back.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:48 AM on December 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


I have loved this movie from the beginning and evangelized for it to all of my friends.

The scene where Laredo scrapes the ship out of the spacedock and everyone leans their heads to one side is absolutely gold.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:52 AM on December 30, 2019 [17 favorites]


To me the killer line will always be "Look, I have one job on this lousy ship. It's stupid, but I'm going to do it."
posted by Mchelly at 7:24 AM on December 30, 2019 [30 favorites]


Yes. I truly believe this is one of the best movies of the 20th century. My favorite movies? Snobby subtitiled numbers like The Spirit of the Beehive, beloved undergrounds like Killer of Sheep, and the absolutely perfect, nails every note Galaxy Quest.
posted by latkes at 7:25 AM on December 30, 2019


To me the killer line will always be "Look, I have one job on this lousy ship. It's stupid, but I'm going to do it."

This happens pretty often when my partner and I are driving someplace:

GPS: "In 800 yards, turn right on Trimble."

Me, the passenger, completely non-ironically, just not sure he can hear the GPS: "In 800 yards, turn right on Trimble."

The two of us: "I have one job on this lousy ship..."
posted by Orlop at 7:33 AM on December 30, 2019 [29 favorites]


I love every single acting choice Enrico Colantoni made in this movie. Absolute perfection.
posted by palomar at 7:38 AM on December 30, 2019 [17 favorites]


@Mikelieman: Yelchin was killed in a freak accident. He did NOT commit suicide.

Repeating for emphasis.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:42 AM on December 30, 2019 [17 favorites]


My favorite thing about Galaxy Quest was the filmmaker's awareness of the classic shake-the-camera-while-everybody-lurches-around maneuver to show that the ship has taken an impact, and just how cheap and cheesy it can look. To avoid this, they built the entire bridge set on hydraulics, to ensure that everyone's reactions would be entirely natural. You can really see the difference.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:53 AM on December 30, 2019 [14 favorites]


I love this movie and "Never Give Up, Never Surrender" is one of our two family mottos. Thanks for the link!
posted by warriorqueen at 7:54 AM on December 30, 2019 [7 favorites]


I'm only a very casual Star Trek fan (grew up loving the original cast movies, have seen episodes here and there of most of the series but overall really not that much)...Yet still at the end of Galaxy Quest when Jason salutes the group of hardcore fans who had all of the schematics and had helped save them, I get a serious lump in my throat. It always makes me think of Patrick Stewart's reaction to the movie (from wikipedia):

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.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:54 AM on December 30, 2019 [49 favorites]


Oh and by the way, everyone should be aware that Dean Parisot is directing Bill & Ted Face the Music.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:57 AM on December 30, 2019 [19 favorites]


The list of SF parody that really understands and celebrates its subject matter, isn't dumber than the thing it's parodying, and is entertaining is pretty sparse. This film, Red Dwarf. Red Shirts. . . that's about all I've got. Maybe Mars Attacks and The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, but I'm not entirely convinced. Cheers!
posted by eotvos at 7:59 AM on December 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


From the article:
Pyle also recalls when Weaver’s character dropped the F-bomb in the climax. “I think they changed it to ‘frill’ or something silly. I don’t think we ever had an intention of making it as kids-friendly as DreamWorks wanted.”

Parisot still regrets that the F-bomb was cut. “That moment where she swears got so many laughs, it was a shame they cut it,” Parisot says. “I purposefully dubbed it really badly so it would stick out.”
The substituted word is "screw", and while it's possible the version with "fuck" is even better, I always find Weaver's "Well, scre-hew this!" to be one of the best moments, solely on the hilariousness of the delivery. (It is indeed a line reading over a take where she clearly mouths "fuck".)

Meanwhile, this thread is too short on Alan Rickman appreciation! The transition from his superbly dour "By Grabthar's Hammer... what a savings." to (after the death of his biggest Thermian fan) the sincere, intense "... you will be avenged" is basically the entire story in a nutshell.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:10 AM on December 30, 2019 [64 favorites]


I said this in his obituary thread, but Galaxy Quest has the single greatest line reading I’ve ever seen, from Alan Rickman: “By Grabthar’s Hammer....what a savings.”

The utter existential resignation and sadness communicated in that pause is sublime. And funny.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:12 AM on December 30, 2019 [35 favorites]


Also, the Sigourney Weaver line just mentioned above: “Well, screw that!” Way funnier if you read her lips.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:12 AM on December 30, 2019 [7 favorites]


One of the more interesting tidbits in the article I think is the revelation that Sigourney Weaver thinks she is, IRL, more Tawny Madison than Ripley! I find that simultaneously hysterical and a little disappointing!

Weaver finds more in common with her Galaxy Quest role than Ripley from Aliens. “I scream when I see a spider,” she says, laughing. “I felt like I was telling the truth about myself and science fiction through Tawny in Galaxy Quest.
posted by pjsky at 8:16 AM on December 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


I love the casting for this movie, but I would cheerfully recast Tim Allen in a heartbeat.

The fact that Tim Allen is such a grating choice is what makes him perfect. His transformation to actual captain only works because he's such a sour note at the beginning, including the actor himself. The arc wouldn't work nearly as well, I think, with someone like Clooney because you wouldn't start off hostile to him, no matter what he did on screen.
posted by fatbird at 8:16 AM on December 30, 2019 [21 favorites]


The transition from his superbly dour "By Grabthar's Hammer... what a savings." to (after the death of his biggest Thermian fan) the sincere, intense "... you will be avenged" is basically the entire story in a nutshell.

It really is, because the ultimate theme of the movie—and why it’s so enduringly endearing, I think—is that things and people have meaning because we give them meaning, by loving for and caring about them. Rickman understood that his character’s arc was the central theme personified: he didn’t care about Galaxy Quest the TV show because it was low-rent dreck, but came to understand that it was worth loving sincerely because the fans loved it sincerely and found it immensely meaningful. That’s what really matters (and also why its satire of Trek and fan culture works; it’s not mean mockery, it’s loving tribute).
posted by LooseFilter at 8:23 AM on December 30, 2019 [32 favorites]


I recall somewhere that Wil Wheaton once wished he could have had a cameo as a disgruntled fan at the convention complaining about the implausibility of a kid piloting the ship.
posted by InTheYear2017 at 8:24 AM on December 30, 2019 [33 favorites]


Galaxy Quest gave us some peak Alan Rickman in a space setting as well as a comedic setting with surprising moments of pathos in between the lols. By Grabthar's hammer, I'll miss that dude
posted by rather be jorting at 8:32 AM on December 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


Two of my favorite lines:
“Can you construct a rudimentary lathe?”

And:
“MmmmmGuy”
posted by cats are weird at 8:37 AM on December 30, 2019 [13 favorites]


"Is there air? You don't know!"
"Seems alright."
posted by soelo at 8:39 AM on December 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


“Let’s get out of here before one of those things kills Guy!”
posted by LooseFilter at 8:40 AM on December 30, 2019 [23 favorites]


I love that Alexander Dane never takes off his rubber alien headpiece...There's even a scene of him relaxing at home at the beginning when he's on the phone with Tawny, and he's just hanging out alone...Still wearing it!

And it's brilliant when his real hair starts to poke out through the battle damage in the headpiece late in the movie.
posted by doctornecessiter at 8:41 AM on December 30, 2019 [12 favorites]


I recall somewhere that Wil Wheaton once wished he could have had a cameo as a disgruntled fan at the convention complaining about the implausibility of a kid piloting the ship.

Apparently there were plans to give cameos to a lot of Trek actors, but this was scrapped on the grounds that it would have taken viewers out of the universe and made it harder to suspend disbelief. I'm inclined to agree.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:41 AM on December 30, 2019 [13 favorites]


I love Galaxy Quest so much. We watched the documentary last week, and then promptly dug out our DVD and re-watched the movie. The documentary has a lot of great Alan Rickman stories, too, and it’s just so sad we didn’t get to hear from him directly.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 8:42 AM on December 30, 2019


I had originally not wanted to see [Galaxy Quest] because I heard that it was making fun of Star Trek

The fact that it doesn't is also what makes us love it. Galaxy Quest is a love song to Star Trek, a paean - lovingly disrespectful and irreverent - but it's on our side. It felt so different than other parodies or sketches about fandom (like those nasty SNL sketches) - and there's no accident that the tone is more like the fan-fiction story referenced above* than those.

*I also read that one! I'd forgotten it, but it was delightful. One of the authors of the first story ("Visit to a Strange Planet") is Jean Lorrah - she went on to write several authorized (albeit non-canon) Star Trek novels - all of which are among my favourites.

Since I became a Star Trek fan more based on the novels than (just) the show(s) and the first novel I ever read was one of Jean Lorrah's - really, she had as much to do with the many years I spent in fandom as Gene Roddenberry or D.C. Fontana did.

If you are a Trekkie and you haven't read the novels, I so highly recommend them! Some of the best writing in the Trek universe happened in them, especially in the 1980s and 90s - or in the independent series (not tv-based) Star Trek: New Frontier that came out later. I think it was because the novelists had both more room - even a short novel is more like a 6-hour miniseries than 1-2 hours of film - but also because they could create other characters who could go through life-changing experiences, which isn't possible in purely episodic television, but which is essential for a really good story.

Also, the novels gave us How Much for Just the Planet, which is the hilarious response to the question of "What would it look like if Star Trek were a G&S musical?".
posted by jb at 9:05 AM on December 30, 2019 [13 favorites]


this is seriously the best hangover movie ever made
posted by supermedusa at 9:19 AM on December 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Storytime, from benbrowder.net (fansite dedicated to Ben Browder, lead of Farscape)
At the end of the [first season of Farscape] after one of the episodes it flashed on screen that there was to be a convention on Labor Day weekend in Burbank. I had attended many Creation conventions for Star Trek and X Files. I attended both days taking a friend one and my youngest daughter the next. I have to say it was an amazing experience! The actors, producers, and writers were so enthusiastic! Apparently they had gone to see the newly released Galaxy Quest to prepare !
From a different source on a Star Trek BBS.
Outside Trek, I once met Ben Browder at a FARSCAPE convention in Burbank. He turned out to be real science fiction fan, who was very well versed in the literature and could talk knowledgeably about Larry Niven, Vernor Vinge, and his other favorite authors. Afterwards, I sent him a care package of Tor Books and got a nice thank-you note in return.

Oh, my other funny Ben Browder story: This was actually the night before the first-ever FARSCAPE convention and the various cast members were wondering what to expect. "Is this going to be anything like GALAXY QUEST?" Browder asked.

"It's going to be exactly like GALAXY QUEST," I told him.

So, sure enough, the next day Browder bounded onto the stage and proclaimed, "Never Give Up! Never surrender!"
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:21 AM on December 30, 2019 [18 favorites]


(previously)

If you love Galaxy Quest then I recommend the fanfic "SMOF" by hollimichele ("man, if you want to get anywhere in Galaxy Quest fandom, you Don’t Talk About GalaxyCon ‘99."). And I recommend the fanvid "A Different Kind of Love Song" by giandujakiss, which uses the moment in Galaxy Quest where the fans are signalling the ship to help it land to great effect.
posted by brainwane at 9:25 AM on December 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm not in the US atm, so am rewatching on YouTube via a VPN ... and the sound is completely messed up to the point where I have to mute it.

I am SO SAD because I really wanted to hear Rickman say The Line. But with these actors and this screenplay it's still enjoyable even with the sound off.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 9:37 AM on December 30, 2019


Saw it in the theater with my family (casual Trek fans) and my friend's family (somewhat more dedicated Trek fans). Had a great time.
posted by atoxyl at 11:07 AM on December 30, 2019


I saw this in the theatre and didn't figure it to be a flop/underachiever. I guess with more marketing it could have made more money but the film got made, everyone involved seemed to treat it as a positive experience, viewers included, and we weren't subjected to further monetization of the IP that would make us retroactively dislike the original. As far as I'm concerned this was a success all around.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:52 AM on December 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


The quality of the movie aside, I'm not sure it really underachieved by all that much. I mean it's an affectionate semi-satirical meta-narrative take on a niche fandom. That wasn't a mass appeal proposition, especially at the time before the explosion of comic book-like movies that have come out since it was released. It made better money than Princess Bride, which is the closest comparison to its tone I can think of, but the primary audience for Princess Bride was quite likely more fragmented for not having such a strong community of fans like Star Trek and sci-fi more generally.

Both are movies that are better designed for long term fan support instead of top drawing box office on release because of their relative narrowness in the kinds of stories they tell, ones that find greater enthusiasm the more one is invested in the types of genres being gently satirized. If Galaxy Quest had been broader in its tone, more a parody like Scary Movie, it may have drawn more initially, but would have lost something of the longer term affection fans find in it. Some movies are just better designed for playing the long game instead of the short one in terms of box office and fan affection.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:45 PM on December 30, 2019 [11 favorites]


One of my best scores ever was picking up the GQ deluxe edition DVD in a dollar bin at Target. I haven't watched the movie in several years, and don't even have a DVD player anymore, but I have no intention of pitching that disk. Never give up, never surrender!
posted by briank at 1:19 PM on December 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Also, the novels gave us How Much for Just the Planet, which is the hilarious response to the question of "What would it look like if Star Trek were a G&S musical?".

Speaking of which, did you see the recent post about the reissuing of Mike Ford’s back catalog?
posted by zamboni at 4:59 PM on December 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


I love every single acting choice Enrico Colantoni made in this movie. Absolute perfection.
posted by palomar at 9:38 AM on December 30 [10 favorites +] [!]
Yoooou arrre ourrr lasthope.
posted by Horkus at 5:27 PM on December 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


Easily the Casablanca of SF movies

Interesting claim! Is this just because of its quality? Or is there meta/genre-winking that goes on in Casablanca too?


Casablanca was a fairly middling script with a fairly standard genre approach which somehow, between the actors and the director and basically everyone involved with the movie, entirely transcends its source to become something magical and perfect.

I'd argue the same about Galaxy Quest.
posted by hippybear at 5:36 PM on December 30, 2019 [12 favorites]


"Those poor people."
posted by Chitownfats at 6:39 PM on December 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


When it came out, I worked in the membership department in a large health insurance company. There were only a few nerds on my floor but by January 2000, we would greet each other in the cubicles with a chest thumping salute and a "By Grabthar's hammer...". Good times.

I recall when the movie was released, EW had a short segment by George Takei. Takei was quite amused and thrilled by it, much in the same way Spiner and Stewart were. He insisted that someone inside the Trek world had dropped some stories on the writers because there actually were times when everyone on set complained about Shatner being shirtless, about certain actors feeling SF was beneath them because of their theater work, etc.
posted by Ber at 6:43 PM on December 30, 2019


Speaking of theater work, one bit that no one has quoted yet that I loved was when Dane was going on about Richard III, and Kwan murmurs "Five curtain calls" right before Dane says it. It's not just that they're complaining about being typecast, it's that everyone else knows their pet rant by heart.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:00 PM on December 30, 2019 [16 favorites]


As David Mamet wrote, "The Godfather, A Place in the Sun, Dodsworth, Galaxy Quest -- these are perfect films. They start with a simple premise and proceed logically, and inevitably, toward a conclusion both surprising and inevitable." .
posted by fings at 10:37 PM on December 30, 2019 [15 favorites]


I love every single acting choice Enrico Colantoni made in this movie. Absolute perfection.

I can’t recall where I read it, might have been an oral history article or something, but apparently Colantoni’s delivery was so great they made actors hired afterward do coaching with him on how to “be” Thermian.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:23 AM on December 31, 2019 [6 favorites]


It's in the posted article.
Colantoni was so impressed with the material that he decided to work several days on crafting his audition and defining the mannerisms of Mathesar and the Thermian race.

Colantoni met with Parisot several times and recalls it always being fun and collaborative. “Dean was great about letting me try things,” Colantoni says. “Dean was on board with organizing a week of what we called ‘Thermian school,’ where we’d rehearse the vocal and physical mannerisms with the rest of the Thermian actors.”
posted by zamboni at 7:48 AM on December 31, 2019 [8 favorites]


I re-watched the movie last night and enjoyed once again all the DVD extras - but I was struck how the DVD and the article linked above make so little mention of Robin Sachs who played SARRIS. I really think that another aspect of the movie that is done particularly well is that they created an interesting, outrageous and yet believable, funny and frightening villain. The full articulating costume, all the creepy bug like features, Sarris is amazing! And Robin Sachs (who I will always remember as Ethan Rayne in BtVS) is terrific. Sadly he died in 2013 according to IMDb.
posted by pjsky at 8:21 AM on December 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


The Sarris costume is really, really good. The fact that they went with a full suit instead of a "forehead alien" costume really sold the "oh shit it's real" aspect of the team's first encounter with him.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:39 AM on December 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's in the posted article.


Well now I look dumb, but I know I read it elsewhere before this article. Anyway. Yeah.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:58 AM on December 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


The Sarris costume is really, really good.

Fun fact: Stan Winston created the practical effects for the movie, and his son Matt plays the Thermian who apologizes for them not using their Appearance Generators when the cast has just beamed to the star port.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:34 AM on December 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


Well now I look dumb

No, just super correct!

Apologies for appearing to play gotcha. It was supposed to be a hey, here's that thing you were talking about.
posted by zamboni at 10:57 AM on December 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


Quote from Tony Shalhoub on Fred Kwan: “Well, I can’t play an Asian guy. I won’t play an Asian guy. But I will play a guy who plays an Asian guy.”

This makes me irrationally happy.
posted by ensign_ricky at 11:09 AM on December 31, 2019 [18 favorites]


"Did you guys ever *watch* the show?"
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:26 PM on December 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


I mean it's an affectionate semi-satirical meta-narrative take on a niche fandom.

... define "niche?" It's Star Trek. It's the Ur-fandom.
posted by tzikeh at 3:52 PM on December 31, 2019 [4 favorites]


Gilligan’s Island never gets mentioned in my house without my husband and I looking mournfully at each other and saying, “Those poor people,” in tragic tones.
posted by jesourie at 4:02 PM on December 31, 2019 [11 favorites]


Don't miss Galaxy Quest 20th Anniversary: The Journey Continues Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - alternate recording. It was a mockumentary produced in 1999 as a promo for Galaxy Quest.

(Apparently recordings of the show is pretty hard to find, and both recordings are pretty low quality, though in different ways. Still well worth a viewing)
posted by flug at 1:03 PM on January 2 [5 favorites]


Fun fact: Stan Winston created the practical effects for the movie, and his son Matt plays the Thermian who apologizes for them not using their Appearance Generators when the cast has just beamed to the star port.

Matt Winston is also one of the three actors (that I know of) in GQ who has a Star Trek connection; he played the recurring role of Daniels, a temporal agent, in Enterprise. The other two are fellow Thermian Rainn Wilson (bka Dwight Schrute from The Office) who has played Harry Mudd on Discovery and Short Treks, and Robin Sachs, aka Sarris, who had a single role on Voyager and has done lots of other stuff, including the voice of Zaeed Massani in the Mass Effect games.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:09 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]


J.J. Abrams' Star Trek might not be able to make another because they can't recast Pavel Chekov.

They are making another, though I don't know what they're doing about Chekov. But instead of Abrams it's going to be written and directed by Noah Hawley, of Fargo and Legion fame, which makes me hopeful: Star Trek 4 Director Says the Movie Will Be a Return to the Essence of Trek
posted by homunculus at 8:54 AM on January 13 [2 favorites]


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