Unlike most geeks, I read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy late in life – 24. But I read it and I was glad. Then I learned Douglas Adams was no longer with us, and I wasn’t so glad anymore. Then I heard he’d been working on a screenplay that would be made into a movie, and I was glad again.
Then it hit me… HOLLYWOOD.
Would tinsel town be the unraveling of the guide just as it had been for everything else that fell into its event horizon?
Many of you can skip this since its old hat…
Arthur Dent, a hopelessly British fellow, is about to have his home turned into a freeway. However, unbeknownst to him the whole earth is about to meet the same fate. Equally unbeknownst to his is that his best friend is an alien and is going to take Arthur away from it all.
And much hilarity ensues.
One has to realize that the book did not come first. It was a radio series, then a book, then a stage play, miniseries, and then a computer game – each different in their own sort of way. So when you see the movie and see that it resembles little of the prior… Don’t Panic. It’s still Douglas Adams talking.
Well, I can’t say it resembles nothing… it is in fact the BBC miniseries all over again – smashed into 2 hrs and given an actual plot to work with:
Trillian, the runaway earthling that only happened to meet Arthur at a party becomes his obsession (earlier on then normal). When he meets her again in space, she gets herself kidnapped and it’s up to Arthur to grow a backbone and save her. This becomes the Hollywood injected main plot, and the search for Deep Thought, Magrathea and the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything sort of become sub texts. John Malcovich is also cast as cult leader to help the new plot along.
Also taking the lead in this version are to Vogons, who get upgraded from plot point to full blown antagonists. And skillfully done as well, thanks to the Jim Henson Creature shop. That’s right, hundreds of 8ft tall giant Muppets thankfully take the screen instead of some cheesy CGI.
But never fear, there is a narrator who chimes in with Guide entries, there is Marvin (voiced by a wonderfully depressing Alan Rickman), and there is countless offbeat references and stabs to society to keep you going.
Mos Def, is very neat as Ford. I didn’t think he would be since he’s not British and didn’t even attempt fain the accent (probably a good thing), but it worked out very well. And Zaphod was a better Zaphod here then the BBC version – it’s what I pictured when I read the book – a schmoozing/annoying idiot rather than an annoying/schmoozing idiot.
Don’t take the word of people who walked out of the film – they were obviously in over their heads to begin with. This movie is great. The opening musical number alone is worth the price of admission. And get the soundtrack, because it channels the whole Hitchhiker’s spirit.
All the new stuff fits in with the old stuff, thus making it great. Adams would be proud.
On the arbitrary scale of 1-6 this is: one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a long while.
READ THE BOOKS!!!