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Movie Credits Buy It!


Review by Elias Savada
Posted 21 May 1999

  Directed and Edited by Roger Nygard.

Starring Denise Crosby, Barbara Adams,
Gabriel and Richard Köerner, Denis Bourguignon and family,
Majel Barrett Roddenberry, James Doohan, Walter Koenig,
DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy,
William Shatner, George Takei, Grace Lee Whitney,
LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner,
Buzz Aldrin, Kate Mulgrew, Ethan Phillips, but no Tribles.

Although some of my acquaintances have confused Trekkies as a spoof on the Star Trek genus of the sci-fi genre, they were surprised when I said it was a documentary, and a pretty darn funny one (for the audience) at that in a unintentionally contemptuous way (for its die-hard subjects). Mockumentary might be a better description, but only by rethinking how the filmmakers approach their material. Thankfully avoiding the in-your-face method overdone by self-referential director Michael Moore (The Big One), director-editor Roger Nygard instead aims his respectful camera closer in tone to early Errol Morris (Gates of Heaven), particularly in the segments dealing with people who let Trek culture invade their daily existence.

Bear in mind that…

Over 30 million fans watch Star Trek programming every week (including yours truly). Conventions honoring the television classic and it’s numerous incarnations big and small are held in at least three cities worldwide every weekend. (I’ve been to one -- that’s enough for me.)

Millions of delusional fans can’t be wrong. Teachers, surgeons, psychotherapists, dominatrixes, seemingly normal human beings. But it’s amazing how many of them really live the dream. Tasha Yar, er, Denise Crosby, formerly of Star Trek: The Next Generation, serves as host and co-executive producer, occasionally popping a question or two to one of the various shows’ stars (who are honestly touched by the affection of the huge crowds thronging to see them) or tagging along behind the innocently rabid fans who fuel this cottage industry. This indirectly benefits Paramount Pictures, producers of all the shows and the films; Trekkies, filmed back in 1997, is finally being released as the second feature out of the studio’s new subsidiary, Paramount Classics. Appropriately the first title was Get Real.

Many of the fans portrayed are deeply rooted in the 1960s, when the original, unsuccessful NBC series first aired (and most of today’s followers weren’t even alive), but the fanaticism has grown in its ensuing syndicated reruns, allowing new generations to discover the 23rd century has a lot more interest than today’s troubled times…and an incredible profit center. One of those fervent devotees is Barbara Adams, a conscientious Sir Speedy employee in Arkansas who grabbed headlines when she reported to the jury of the Whitewater trial in her Starfleet Uniform, complete with tricorder, phaser, and communicator badge. She made it past the metal detectors and now she’s got her own fans.

Dentist Denis Bouguignon, his hygenist wife and their entire staff dress for work in "Starbase Dental" (a hold-out receptionist finally succumbed after a year), an Orlando, Florida, Star Trek themed office with memorabilia covering the walls. Patients are enthused and the good doctor has trademarked his idea.

David and Laurel Greenstein, and their late poodle Tammi (who receives an end credit dedication) favor the primary blue and red dress uniforms of the premiere series as they are interviewed in their Woodland Hills house, filled with trekabilia. David, captivated by the Vulcan mythology, contemplates surgery to reshape his ears, much to his wife’s obvious disdain as she pets the family pooch, wrapped in its own appropriate regalia. David later shows off his Federation of Planets passport which he passed off as an official document during his travels, complete with customs stamps! Too bad their doggie wasn’t a Scottie, then the oft-repeated phrase about inter-spatial transportation would take on a more personal urgency.

In Bakersfield, 14-year-old Gabriel Köerner has attended more than two dozen conventions (other fans confess to haunting hundreds!) with his sympathetic dad. He’s scripted out his own Star Trek feature and is creating the special effects and production designs on his home computer, as well as stitching together the wardrobe.

Other fans seek out blood of the stars; some believe the series was REAL! A Klingon bidding on a latex forehead that has nostalgic power pays over $14,000 for the item, his facial expression professing a smug victory against the competition. The films revels in jaw-dropping humor, all in good nature, as it delves into the eccentricities of its "stars," including one who has authored a definitive Klingon sex manual. The film even has it’s serious moments, particularly as James Doohan (Scotty) recalls saving a suicidal fan from the dark side.

As the film ends, I speculate that there are thousands of other Trek stories to be told, perhaps enough to spawn Trekkies 2, etc. I recall the old Saturday Night Live program featuring Shatner begging his fans to "get a life." (Oddly enough, that’s exactly the same words that comes to mind in expressing the Star Wars camp-out phenomenon.) Apparently many obsessive sorts out there in the universe ignored Captain Kirk’s advice and continue to revere the memory of the Starship Enterprise and its aging crew. Thanks to director Nygard, this amateur, meandering voyage beams into a theater near you, blissfully warping through the lives of several courageous, self-absorbed souls who, at the risk of public ridicule, go where many of use fear to tread. Laugh long and prosper.

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