Two Must See Science Fiction Spoof Film Documentaries (plus: the most ‘inconceivable’ parody of a spoof)

It’s hard to make a decent movie spoof for a beloved franchise, and being in the science fiction genre doesn’t make things any easier. The producers have to sell a fresh plot, quality special effects, and sparkling humor, while somehow keeping the fan base happy. You have to honor — while riffing– the base material. It’s a tight line to walk.

Two beloved science fiction spoofs not only stand out as Best in Genre full-length film satires, but have now have their own documentaries. That’s impressive for a parody.

If you’re a Star Wars or Star Trek fan, you’ve probably heard about Spaceballs and Galaxy Quest. Join me in discussing the cameo-studded documentaries about these fabulous science fiction movie parodies.

Spoofing Star Wars: Spaceballs – The Documentary (30 minutes, 1987)

Lucasfilm actually did post-production for Spaceballs. Mel Brooks said George Lucas loved the screenplay, thankfully, since Brooks wasn’t going to go forward with Spaceballs if Lucas had a problem with it.

In the documentary, Brooks says, “to make a good spoof film, you have to love the genre.” Truth.

Not only did Brooks pull together a stellar cast for Spaceballs, the story was funny and reasonably sensible. Even better, there were film nods to other science fiction classics like Star Trek, Alien, Planet of the Apes, and even Superman. Spaceballs is a good romp.

Here’s the 1987 Spaceballs Documentary to get you back in the saddle for some silly Star Wars fun:

 

Spoofing Star Trek: Galaxy Quest (2019)

Ask any Trek fan to list their favorite Star Trek films and invariably Galaxy Quest comes up. Even the real Star Trek actors love it, and praise it to Klingon Heaven (aka Sto-Vo-Kor) in this documentary. When it comes to the best Star Trek films, Galaxy Quest is near the top for me. It also handles the fanbase with great esteem, letting ‘us’ help save the day (“It’s all real.” “I KNEW it!”)

Indeed, I loved the Galaxy Quest Documentary when it came out in a limited release in 2019. I laughed with all the other fans in a packed screening room, while we clued back into to why this…wacky  spoof…was so good. It told a real story. And FELT like Star Trek. It had a coherent narrative, gave us all the feels, and reminded us how amazing Alan Rickman can be with even the goofiest lines (“By Grabthar’s Hammer, you shall be avenged.“)

Here’s the trailer for the Never Surrender Documentary (not available free on You Tube Yet):

My Never Surrender Galaxy Quest Documentary Review:

Never Surrender – A Galaxy Quest Retrospective

Extra! Must-See Bonus Spoofiness

The Deadpool Before Christmas (2018)

A superhero spoof of a fantasy spoof? With genre-hopping Princess Bride fun? Yes, please.

Here’s the trailer if you somehow missed this Deadpool & Princess Bride Mashup:

And my review of The Deadpool Before Christmas:

The Deadpool Before Christmas

 

Never Surrender – A Galaxy Quest Retrospective

galaxy quest documentary never surrender
Never give up. Never surrender.

I just smiled my ass off for 95 minutes. And you will too, if you’ve loved Galaxy Quest since it premiered in 1999. I’ve been telling everyone in earshot for decades that Galaxy Quest is one of the best “Star Trek” movies ever made. It was kind of fun to hear this exact sentiment expressed in Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary, which played for one night at my AMC theater, to a packed and happy room.

If you’re a fan of The Orville and you haven’t seen Galaxy Quest, that’s a legit sin. On the other hand, if you decide to watch it now, you’re in for a special treat. In fact, I’d bet good money Seth McFarlane is a GQ fan. He’s managed to walk the narrative line between Galaxy Quest comedy and epic cannon Trek for two beloved Orville seasons already, with a third on the way.

As I said, the theater room for Never Surrender was packed with fans for the one-night engagement. People cheered, clapped, laughed, and shouted out popular lines from GQ. In fact, we clapped like Thermians. And if you remember what a Thermian is, you just might be a geek. 🙂

Nice touches in Never Surrender

Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) and Brent Spiner (Data) are interviewed and showed a lot of enthusiasm for Galaxy Quest. That’s a bit of awesome. I hope you aren’t wondering who Wesley and Data are: I’m certainly not going to tell you. If you appreciated Galaxy Quest, you’re probably familiar with Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Ooops, I just gave it away.) Spiner even reported that Patrick [Stewart] said, “I love this film.”

BTW, Spiner does a pretty good Captain Picard impression.

It was also lovely (and sad) to see Alan Rickman behind the scenes. Apparently he was a lot of fun to work with. And since I had just watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood right before Never Surrender, I got to watch Enrico Colantoni in two movies in one day. I do like his work.

In another coincidence, the night before I watched an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, where Herc is in a  labyrinth full of elaborate and deadly traps (season 2 episode 3: What’s In A Name). One scene is INCREDIBLY reminiscent of the “Who builds these things?” scene in Galaxy Quest, where the heroes have to pass a chamber full of gigantic metal posts bashing together. Again, if you’re a fan, you know this scene. I enjoyed seeing Hercules making a blatant homage.

And seriously, good point. Someone should make a list of all the vast, unexplained abysses in Star Wars movies, and weird dangerous chambers full of deadly grinding gears — one even made it into Guardians of the Galaxy, which the documentary revealed was partly inspired by Galaxy Quest.

How Galaxy Quest could have been

One thing I never knew: GQ was originally written as an R rated film. They had to remove some scenes and redub some lines to get it down the PG rating the studio wanted. In fact, in the aforementioned “Who builds these?” scene, Sigourney Weaver’s character said “F*ck this”….which was dubbed as “Screw this,” but you can see that her mouth is actually forming the original line. It’s funny either way.

Did you know genre favorite Harold Ramis was originally slated to direct Galaxy Quest? I’d have loved to see his version, but can’t complain with what we got.

It was also interesting to hear the extensive laundry list of A-level actors who turned down the captain’s role, eventually landed by Tim Allen. He was never anyone’s first choice apparently, but Allen did a wonderful near-Shatner portrayal.

The whole cast really clicked, and instead of being a cheap spoof movie, GQ became a real science fiction film with only gentle parody that offended exactly no one. It takes the storytelling a step above and beyond Mel Brooks’ silly Star Wars spoof Spaceballs. (Which I also enjoy, on a different level.)

I don’t think anyone dislikes Galaxy Quest. When Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary comes out on streaming platforms, give it a watch…and by Grabthar’s Hammer, you shall be avenged!

Don’t deny it. You know you choked up during this scene:

Documentary Grade: A-

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