YES, A MOVIE ABOUT A MOVIE CAN BE FUN. NEVER SURRENDER: A GALAXY QUEST DOCUMENTARY
Behind-the-scenes films often have a standard formula--clips, talk, clips, talk--without providing illuminating insights or entertaining stories. In Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary (2019), that usual format gets tweaked.
1999, the release date of the sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest, comprised a large number of darker movies. Splashes of lighter fare--Notting Hill, Never Been Kissed and 10 Things I Hate About You--had some critical plus box office success. Laugh-out-loud comedies were scarce.
Except for the forgettable Space Balls (1987), sci-fi spoofs hadn't appealed to Hollywood studios or producers until a concept presented to DreamWorks Pictures got the attention of Screenwriters David Howard and Robert Gordon. After they developed the Galaxy Quest treatment into a viable script, a new director was hired (Dean Parisot who replaced Harold Ramis), and all agreed on the stellar cast which would headline the movie.
Half the delight of this backstory, made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release, involves hearing/seeing the actors reminisce about how much they loved making (yes, they sound genuine) the movie. They include : Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, (memories of the late Alan Rickman), Tony Shalhoub, Daryl Mitchell, Sam Rockwell, Enrico Colantoni, Justin Long along with Rainn Wilson.
Pre-production discussion becomes intertwined with these testaments, providing some suspense as to whether the movie would be made. The documentary also focuses on the beloved fan base that helped lift the adventure into cult status. These devotees, like Trekkies, don the makeshift costumes, know the lines (the title phrase "Never Surrender" being one of them), gestures; revere the comedy that also has surprisingly touching moments. Authenticity in performances, storytelling; a budget/production design worthy of a Star Trek motion picture helped garner more cinephiles over the years.
You don't have to be a Star Trek follower to follow the plot, enjoy the premise of this documentary. And yet to get the inside jokes, it helps. Either way, the infectious energy of the cast and crew that produced Galaxy Quest underscores why the movie eventually succeeded.
Watching Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary should be required viewing for any film student. Those who have little patience with science-fiction or its parodies may still glean much from how and why any movie gets made. Besides, it's goofy fun.
Unrated. As with the feature, Galaxy Quest, PG would be an appropriate guesstimate.
Now showing on Amazon Prime Video (free for members) and available for rent on other streaming services.
Earlier reviews not seen on this website (before May 20, 2021) are available on https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/wendy-shreve/movies or my previous blog site, featuringfilm.com
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