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Holidays and fan favourites

Headed up to Nelson Bay early this afternoon, to spend nearly a week up at the family house. For the Easter weekend Sallie’s brother Tom and his family will stay with us, which will be a good chance for Will and Alex to spend time with their cousins Millie and Emma — something they don’t do enough of because Tom lives up on the family farm. We got into town at about 4pm, while Tom and his family got in about a half hour later. By the end of today it was clear that just two days was enough — Will and Millie were staying in the same room, and they were giggling and laughing so hard that it seemed as if they would never get to sleep!

Quiet night today, so I watched what was on TV — quite a good choice. I checked out Galaxy Quest again, and most of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy after that. They both damn entertaining movies, and underrated gems in my opinion.

Galaxy Quest is both a send-up of sci-fi fan culture, and a loving ode to it at the same time. It’s this perfect combination that makes it work, with people who love the fan culture getting into a great story about pretenders made good and fans saving the day, while at the same time people who think it’s rubbish can still enjoy a story that’s a clear send-up of the Star Trek fan world and a funny action comedy.

Great cast, starting with the obvious ones such as Tim Allen (easily his best role outside of maybe Toy Story), Sigourney Weaver (both sending up sci-fi babes and doing a counterpoint to her tough girl sci-fi Aliens role), and Alan Rickman (who must be sending up the classical Brit slumming it in US TV — and sending up Patrick Stewart just a bit?) Since I saw it at the movies, what impresses me also is the cast I didn’t really know at the time that I know now. Most familiar is Sam Rockwell, who plays the hapless one-episode extra turned hero that tags along on the trip, Enrico Colatino (Veronica Mars), as the sing-song voiced alien emissary, and most of all Tony Shalhoub (Monk) as the laconical cast member who ends up falling for an alien girl. These guys were virtual unknowns at the time, but they’ve all moved on to various degrees of major success since. Small after the fact touches like this are what make Galaxy Quest so good.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy came on after Galaxy Quest, and while most probably rate it less highly than the earlier movie, I love it to bits. A movie over a decade in the making, and somewhat overshadowed by the death of creator Douglas Adams several years earlier, I still think it does well as a screen adventure, conveying the true spirit of the books while putting together a tight movie-orientated story that works well by itself.

The cast is great — Martin Freeman was an obvious choice as Arthur Dent, Mos Def seemingly odd but really perfect as Ford Prefect, Sam Rockwell just the right kind of mental as Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Zooey Deschanel (who I love already), all kinds of zany gorgeous as Trillian. Topped off with a great supporting cast (such as John Malkovich and Bill Nighy and cameos from original TV series actors like Simon Jones), and voice work from Stephen Fry as the voice of the book and Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin the android that is magnificent.

And it’s just so … joyous. The whole movie has a sense of celebration for the stories, and a sense of reverance for Douglas Adams (watch for the final image). Personal highlights include the magnificently verbatim use of exerpts from the book when the book speaks, and the way they fit so well into the movie.

Don’t think it did terribly, but I guess it wasn’t a “massive” movie either. Don’t care really, I enjoyed it, and would recommend it to others. I think something like this, with a massive pre-existing fan base, was always going to have a mixed result with that audience, let alone the wider audience.

But that doesn’t matter to me … I know what I like when I see it 🙂

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