The has-been cast of a cult TV sci-fi series are abducted by aliens to save the universe for real, and in struggling to rise to the occasion, manage to pastiche every cliché in the sci-fi TV series handbook.
Going boldly beyond the comic skits and lore references that have peppered popular culture for 35 years, this full blown spoof of the Star Trek phenomenon is so witty and polished it will endear itself even to those who don't know a transporter beam from a phaser blast. This is a one-joke premise, affectionately and knowingly developed into a multiplicity of wonderfully amusing gags and hugely enjoyable performances.
Vain, arrogant ham Jason Nesmith (Allen) and his co-stars from long-cancelled sci-fi adventure series Galaxy Quest make mortifying bucks appearing at conventions of avid Questers. Cast reunions are occasions for jealous rants, recriminations and laments for lost careers from Gwen (Weaver), who played the show's communications babe, the now adult Tommy (Daryl Mitchell), who played the boy genius navigator, the permanently stoned Fred (Tony Shalhoub), and the snooty Shakespearean thespian (Rickman), doomed to be remembered as Quest's prosthetic-headed, half-humanoid, half-reptilian science officer, Dr. Lazarus.
Approached by a group of oddballs who seem only slightly more cuckoo than the typical Questie autograph hounds, the inimical ensemble find themselves whisked into space aboard a working replica of their telly starship by the Thermians, a race who not only have monitored Earth TV transmissions, but have modelled their society and technology on Galaxy Quest. Now they are engaged in a desperate battle with a tentacled conquering foe, depending on their heroes to lead them to victory and save the universe. "Uh-oh"s all round, as the scared and hopelessly inadequate actors struggle to rise to the occasion.
Director Parisot (Home Fries) maintains a lively pace and playful tone through well-executed pastiches of every clich in the genre, such as "the away mission", on which the bit-part player (Sam Rockwell) as the crewman with no name is horribly aware he's bound to be the first casualty, the commander contrives to shed his shirt, and Gwen's uniform gets ever more revealingly shredded.
The entire cast is game for the ridiculous, while Stan Winston's aliens and ILM visual effects give this the gloss of a straight-faced sci-fi spectacle. Beam on up.