Monday, December 13, 2010

Back in Time Reviews: Galaxy Quest (1999)

"Articles on sci-fi films should focus on the deep philosophical roots of the work, not the creepy sexualized fan culture it inspires." ~ Fake AP Stylebook

The great thing about Galaxy Quest is that it's a geek tv show inside a geek movie all covered over with a fondant of satire. The basic concept is that a short-run 80s science fiction TV show called "Galaxy Quest" is living a half-life in the convention circuit, like Star Trek in the 70s and Battlestar Galactica in the 90s. (Yes, feel free to cite other examples in the comments: Lost in Space, etc.) There is the friction among the cast members that you would expect in such a situation - inequality of their star power, the serious actor who feels this has ruined their career (think Alec Guiness), the co-stars who seem trapped in this life and sort of aimless. The twist comes in when the lead actor Jason Nesmith (a la Bill Shatner) who played Commander Taggert on the show (a la Captain Kirk) tells his co-stars that he has actually been on an alien ship - and that the aliens believe they are really the characters from the show. Without giving too much away we can just say "hilarity ensues." Sort of a modern geekling Comedy of Errors.

When I consider the impact of movies one of the metrics is "quoting." Do I still quote this movie 11 years later? Oh, heck yes. Pretty much every character has a line worth repeating at some point. You will find yourself teasing your friends in tense moments with Guy's, "Did you guys ever WATCH the show?" Frustrations at work will be met with Gwen's voice in your head saying, "Look! I have one job on this lousy ship, it's *stupid*, but I'm gonna do it! Okay?"

One of my other metrics for a movie is the number of high profile actors. As you may have noticed often there is an INVERSE relationship between the number of 'stars' and the quality of a movie. Somehow Galaxy Quest manages to defeat this curse. Which stars am I talking about? Probably some of your favorites. Tim Allen (voice of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story), Sigourney Weaver (Ripley from Alien), Alan Rickman (Snape in Harry Potter), Tony Shalhoub (Monk from the TV show Monk), Sam Rockwell (Zaphod Beeblebrox in the latest Hitchhiker's Guide - not his best role, but one of his sci-fi ones), Daryl Mitchell (Dexter on The John Larroquette Show), Enrico Colantoni (Eliot from Just Shoot Me!), Patrick Breen (Reggie from MIB), Missi Pyle (Mrs. Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and Justin Long (pretty much every movie that's come out for 10 years, also the Mac in Mac vs. PC ads). And that was just listing one thing from each actor's resume. I could write a whole page on Alan Rickman alone (or, as Kevin Smith calls him, Hans-f'ing-Gruber).

So, in summary - hilarious geekgasm of a movie. Highly recommended.

The Commander's Rating: Five out of five Vulcan salutes.
Pros: Every last little bit of it. Concept, script, actors - it's all brilliant.
Cons: If you aren't a geek you won't get it. If you haven't been to a science fiction convention you won't get parts of it. 
Recommendation: If you're a geek and haven't seen this, GET ON IT. If you're not a geek but know a geek, watch it to understand them a little better through the power of humor. If you're not a geek and don't know a geek, well, you're probably not reading this blog. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fillin' Out a Job Application Playlist

Think good thoughts for me. This is what the random iPod gave me for a playlist (first ten).
  1. One Week - Barenaked Ladies
  2. All For You - Sister Hazel
  3. Thank You - Dido
  4. Torn - Natalie Imbruglia
  5. Stay (I Missed You) - Lisa Loeb
  6. Hands - Jewel
  7. The Remedy (I Won't Worry) - Jason Mraz*
  8. Underneath Your Clothes - Shakira
  9. It's All Coming Back to Me Now - Celine Dion
  10. Music - Madonna
Special note on Jason - I've worked with his mom. Having grown up with musicians for brothers and lingering on the edges of the "music scene" for most of my life I smiled indulgently when she told me how great his music was. Well, we can see how that worked out. Good on ya, Jason, for making your mama proud.