Written by Douglas Adams and Karey Kirkpatrick
Directed by Garth Jennings
Running Time: 1:49
for thematic elements, action and mild language.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was a funny, non-sensical yet utterly amusing film that will keep fans of the book happy, and bring in new fans to the classic story.
Arthur Dent is having a bad morning. It seems his house is about to be demolished. Little does he know, that's not the only thing about to be demolished that morning. His close friend Ford Prefect let's him in on a little secret. The Earth is about to be blown up as well, and if Arthur wants to live, he better eat some peanuts, drink some beer, and keep his towel handy. Moments before the planet is destroyed, the two friends hop on a passing Vogon ship and from there, the real adventure begins. They escape the Vogons (or rather, are released into space and improbably picked up by a passing ship) and go on a journey with the President of the Galaxy, one Zaphod Beeblebrox, and a girl Arthur had actually just met a week ago, Tricia McMillan, now known as Trillian. Zaphod is on a quest to find the Question to Life, the Universe and Everything. As it turns out, the Answer is 42, but no one bothered to find the question. So this strange group of people, along with the manic-depressive android Marvin, travel the Universe, in search of fame, fortune, and the Question.
I've read the The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at least half a dozen times, along with the first two sequels. The last two books in the five-book trilogy I've only read once each. But before the Harry Potter books came out, the books of Douglas Adams were probably my favorite. They were so wild and out there I couldn't help but have fun imagining the movie in my head. Arthur Dent is such an unlikely space hero that you felt like you were right there with him. So while the movie didn't adhere strictly with the book, the filmmakers (working off an original script co-written by the author himself) were able to keep the irreverent humor while creating a somewhat new story. And if Marvin the android doesn't become some kind of cult hero, I don't know what's wrong with people. I would pay a lot of money to have a Marvin doll.
I'll admit, when I saw the casting choices for the movie, I thought, oh no, they've gone and screwed up this terrific story. I mean, one of the guys from The Office? Two people named Mos Def and Zooey? I couldn't for the life of me imagine them as these great characters. But you know what? They pulled it off. Mos Def was the one casting choice I thought would bring down the movie, but his portrayal of Ford, while not as insane as the character in the books, was well done and very entertaining. He was reined in a little too much, but still fun. Martin Freeman as Arthur pulled off the everyman character, going from befuddled Earthman, to outer space adventurer. Zooey Deschanel still probably wouldn't be my first choice for Trillian, but she was good enough. But the real coup was Sam Rockwell as Zaphod. His interpretation of Zaphod as an intergalactic cowboy was almost pitch perfect. In the books, Zaphod is an egotistical megalomaniac who wants nothing more than all the power and fame he can get. And in the movie, Zaphod is an egotistical megalomaniac who blows up a planet just because he thinks someone wants his autograph. You can't help but laugh whenever Zaphod opens his mouth. There are times he sounds like a dead ringer for President Bush, and you have to think that was kind of the point. Then there's Marvin, who also is a perfect replica of the character in the book. Always depressed, he looked so sweet and Alan Rickman's voice was flawless.
The story, as it was, was kind of strange. Mainly because there really wasn't one. It was kind of a mess of scenes where there was no end to the story arc. Maybe they're hoping for a sequel, which I would totally love to see, but they never resolve much. There was too much of the 'love' story between Arthur and Trillian for my liking, but I guess they threw that in there to maybe attract more female viewers? I would have preferred they left that out, or at least didn't play it up so much. The scenes that did take place, whether taken from the book or original, were bumpered by animated sequences from the infamous Hitchhiker's book. You know the one with the words 'Don't Panic' written in giant letters on the cover? Some of those animated sequences garnered more laughs than the movie itself, which just added to the quirkiness of the film. The funniest scene might have been one where they come off of the improbability jump and all end up as string. Yeah, you kind of need to see the movie to understand that one.
The special effects were all top notch, and the Vogons looked to be all puppetry as opposed to the usual present-day CGI creations. CGI is nice and all, but you can tell a lot of the times that the actors aren't looking at anything. Creating these huge, ugly creatures and having them be real was a stroke of genius. Yes they were goofy looking, but they were supposed to be. That being said, the effect when Arthur and Slartibartfast (the man who created the fjords of Norway) take a trip through the planet factory, was fantastic. They hop onto a crane and fly literally around the world and we see how Earth was really created. We also learn that dolphins are the second most intelligent creatures on the planet and that maybe we shouldn't shoo a mouse when we see one.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, whether you're a fan of the books or not, I think you'll enjoy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I had a great time, and I can tell how much I enjoyed a movie when, the day after, I'd pay to go see it again immediately. This could go down as one of my favorite films ever. It's not perfect, but it's one hell of a fun ride.
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