Director: Leonard Nimoy
Cast: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForrest Kelley, Catherine Hicks
Have I Seen it Before: Honestly? I really think this was the first piece of Star Trek I ever watched. For any number of years, my only copy of the film was on VHS recorded off the broadcast of the film on March 28th, 1993. I know this because the movie was interrupted every few minutes with an add for the 65th Academy Awards the next night. Not the best way to watch a movie repeatedly, but there it is.
Did I Like It: It’s an even numbered movie, right? It’s written—at least partially—by Nicholas Meyer, right?
As I mentioned before, this was—to my memory—the first piece of Star Trek I had ever taken in. As anyone who knows me can attest, that moment proved seminal to me, and as such it can’t be denied that The Voyage Home is perhaps the perfect gateway piece of Star Trek ever constructed. The Wrath of Khan (1982) may be the superior film, and some of the J.J. Abrams movies may possess a more self-assured modern blockbuster feel, but this is the one that is a straight ahead crowd-pleasing comedy.
And every inch of the film is devoted to that effect. Large portions of the screenplay were cannibalized from material that didn’t make it into Meyer’s fish-out-of-water Time After Time (1979). The score—by Leonard Rosenman—is a jaunty skip through San Francisco of the 1980s. It’s exactly the right score for this kind of movie, and I say this while maintaining that Rosenman’s score for Robocop 2 (1990) is perhaps the most incorrect score ever attached to a particular movie. Even the ingenue role played by Catherine Hicks was originally written for Eddie Murphy, although one imagines there was a fair amount of re-writing to make the transfer the roles between the two performers.
It’s also a comedy that likely wouldn’t work under any other circumstances. Nimoy and the writers had an intimate understanding of—if not Trek lore—the beating heart of what made Trek continue to work. The jokes spring out of the chemistry between the characters, and I challenge anyone to find another comedy film wherein the characters have twenty years of interplay to inform their reactions. I’ll wait here in the park for your answer. See? That hypothetical film just doesn’t exist.