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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


What is the ultimate question? Unknowingly, I viewed two movies regarding the creation of Earth and our purpose within that framework this week (here’s the first). Thankfully, the second film, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, treated absolutely everything like a joke.

Grade:

Hapless earthling, Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), is saved from Earth’s imminent destruction by Ford Prefect (Mos Def), a galactic hitchhiker. The pair eventually find themselves on a fancy spacecraft with Trillian (Zooey Deschanel) and the president of the universe, Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell). They embark on a journey across the universe to find the answers that have plagued people for millennia.

Now, I have to admit I did not read the book, so I can only judge the story by the film, which I am almost positive does not give the true story justice. There is so much fantastical information being thrown at you – and Arthur – that it is becomes incredibly difficult to keep up. There are so many satirical jokes thrown into the galactic fray that you simply have to accept some will float by without being noticed. Just hang on and try to grasp the bigger goal of the film.

For such an odd film, the cast is above average to say the least. In addition to Freeman, Def, Deschanel and Rockwell, we get snippets of Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Helen Mirren, Stephen Fry and John Malkovich. Most are simply in voice form, but that still means they believed in the story enough to sign on and become a part of it. Freeman is obviously the most important of the group for playing the protagonist and I can’t foresee a role I would not like him in. I got the feeling that Arthur was meant to be more pathetic, dim-witted or oblivious, but Freeman gave him a bit of clarity when dealing with such odd circumstances for an average bloke from Cornwall.

The first glance at Rockwell doing his best David Lee Roth (circa 1980) impression makes you immediately think he’ll steal the show and make the film much better. Yet, after the initial grandiose introduction, he takes a backseat and becomes somewhat irrelevant – not to the story, mind you, just to your interests. In fact, as the movie progresses, none of the characters really grab hold of your attention and make you care about their uncertain future. Def does not get a chance to do much after his work saving Arthur, and Deschanel is only slightly better than her typical whimsical, slightly airheaded roles.

Ultimately, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy plays out like The Fifth Element mixed with Galaxy Quest (another Rockwell/Rickman pairing) and Mom and Dad Save the World. All of which were much better and more enjoyable than the Guide. It was made in 2005, but has effects that resemble the aforementioned films that were made earlier – the closest of which was Galaxy Quest in ’99. The potential for hilarity and greatness is quite large, but never pans out due to an information-laden plot and uninteresting characters.

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  1. It’s funny…this is actually one of my favorite movies (Trillian’s outfit in the picture up there is my Halloween costume this year. lol) The book is pretty hard to adapt into screen and in fact there was a BBC version made that is less than stellar. it sticks to the book to a T though it’s so bogged down trying to get it perfect that it becomes a slow, droll, trudge and you start to lose interest. What I really love about this version is that while it’s super edited, it gets the feel and the absurd nature of the story right. The heart of the story is in this movie, and I found that sometimes when you can get it perfect, you get the the spirit right. I know I’m in the minority, this movie tanked everyone hates it but I enjoyed the ride it took me on. It’s kind of supposed to be all over the place and you’re just supposed to have a good time trying to chase it.

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