This movie has always resonated with me. Sure it's funny and entertaining, but there are serious plot elements and real world writing applications to take away from the film as well.
Plot Elements of Galaxy Quest:
- The reluctant hero archetype. If you haven't read Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces, I suggest you do. His work is also foundational for Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey. The reluctant hero is an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances who initially "refuses the call" but eventually follows his destiny. Tim Allen who plays fictional Commander Peter Quincy Taggart in the film, also plays actor Jason Nesmith our reluctant hero.
- The Fish Out of Water Theme. The producer, Mark Johnson admits to adding this element for a unique twist. The entire crew of the spaceship, the NSEA Protector, are actors playing a part. They are thrown into the water as the aliens from Thermian expect"the crew" to help in a genocidal war against Sarris, the reptilian warlord.
- The Transformation Plot. On a bigger scale Galaxy Quest is a transformation tale for the main protagonist, Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen). Ronald B. Tobias, in his book, 20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them, explains the transformation plot as a process plot, a constant cycle of action, reaction; cause effect. The plot will also rely heavily on character self-examination. Jason Nesmith transforms from a down and out actor who drinks too much and is embarrassed that his career has digressed to computer store openings to a man who leads his "crew" to save a civilization and believes in himself again.
- The Hero’s Journey. The Call to Adventure begins when the crew prepares to bail as they realize the Thermanian ship is real. Commander Nesmith stops them with a challenge to partake in the adventure of a lifetime. They hesitantly follow, becoming fully committed and reaching the Point of No Return when they see Sarris’ cruel attack on the Thermanian people. The death of Quellek brings the crew to The Black Moment and finally the Climax (resurrection, death and rebirth) as they activate the Omega 13. The Return of the Elixir occurs when the ship crash lands on earth, and onto the stage at the Galaxy Quest convention and Sarris is disintegrated.
Things I Learned From Galaxy Quest:
- The road to publication is tough, but anything worth having is worth fighting pig lizards and rock monsters for.
- “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!” says Lazarus. Don’t let the bad contest judges, the inconsiderate publishing professionals, the mean reviewers get you down. Raise yourself up and prove them wrong.
- Never underestimate the loyalty and smarts of your fans. They’ll be there for you when you need someone to walk you through shutting down a neutron reactor. Or maybe they’ll just be the members of the book group who stand in line for your new release's book signing, even if the Wal-Mart manager puts you at the back of the store next to the men’s room.
- Together we have more strength than alone. Remember the Mak’tar chant of strength: Larak tarath. Larak tarath.
- Activate the Omega-13 in your life. The Omega 13 is speculated to be either a matter collapser, a bomb capable of destroying the universe OR a matter re-arranger enabling a 13 second time jump back in time—the time to redeem a single mistake. It’s all about taking a chance. Because if you always do what you always do, you’ll always get what you always get.
- Don’t make things harder than they really are. Sometimes all you have to do is push the blue button.
- And finally my fellow, Questarians, remember: You have to make your own happy endings. Never give up, never surrender.