It's been a strange couple of years for the Star Trek franchise. At least since the re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy in 1997, Trek's place in popular culture has seemed considerably less prominent, as two series left the air and the public's attention turned away from the principled humanism of Gene Roddenberry's creation and more toward the mythic vagaries of George Lucas' universe. With only the increasingly irrelevant Voyager and the occasional feature film keeping the Star Trek name alive, it's no surprise that it would take an outside work to provide a reminder of how endearing and resonant the phenomenon can be. An inspired spoof of and tribute to Star Trek, Galaxy Quest stars Tim Allen as the one-time star of the long-canceled, cultishly adored science-fiction show of the title, the captain of a fictional starship whose crew now finds its steadiest employment signing autographs at conventions and opening discount electronics stores. When guileless space aliens who believe the series' episodes to be "historical documents" (imagine hardened Trekkies with an even looser grasp on reality) kidnap Allen and his crew, the group is forced to recall the lessons of its fictional past and band together to save the aliens' fragile civilization, which is founded on the high-minded if occasionally illogical principles of the series. Director Dean Parisot (Home Fries) makes the most of Robert Gordon and David Howard's Three Amigos-in-space screenplay, never letting the impressive special effects get in the way of a solid comedy that would have worked at half the budget. But the cast is what makes Galaxy Quest work. Allen suggests the two-dimensional actor who starred on Home Improvement more than the two-dimensional actor who played Captain Kirk, but the rest turn in deft comic performances. These include Sigourney Weaver as the series' token woman, Daryl Mitchell as its aging wunderkind navigator, Sam Rockwell as a minor player (who died in episode 82) swept along for the ride, and the especially good Alan Rickman and Tony Shalhoub, respectively playing a sardonic British actor tired of being typecast in his Spock-like role and the ship's sleepy-eyed tech sergeant. It's a funny, fitting homage to Star Trek and its followers that's more entertaining than its inspiration has been in some time.
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