Since most people who are interested in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” are fans of the novels (which are, themselves, adaptations of author Adams’ radio plays), I’ll jump right to the question which is on your collective mind, the answer of which is…“42.”
No? Hmmm, must be a different question. Oh, I’m sorry; you want to know how closely the movie sticks to the book, right? Well, I have good news and bad news… and good news. And bad news. The good news is that there are many parts which are repeated verbatim from Douglas Adams’ celebrated novel. The bad news is that much of it will be completely new to even hardcore fans. The good news is that Adams is, himself, responsible for those changes. The bad news is that Zaphod Beeblebrox (the two-headed Galactic President) looks like Chad Kroeger, the lead singer for Nickelback. And I can’t stand Nickelback.
“Hitchhiker’s Guide,” for the uninitiated, tells the story of one Arthur Dent, a speck of a man (in the grand scheme of things, anyway) who wakes up one morning to find that his house has been scheduled (pronounced “SHed-yoold.” The “c” is silent, you schizoid schlemiels) for demolition. That’s about ten minutes before Earth blows up reeel good to a banjo soundtrack. Luckily, Arthur’s best friend on the planet turns out to be an alien, and they stow themselves away on one of the attacking spacecraft.
As we follow their journey, we are treated to several cinematic asides, readings from the titular “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” which offers explanations about life, the Universe, and…well, everything. These are among the funniest bits in the film. Thankfully, they are not the only funny bits (just wait until you get to the much-beloved “whale and the flowerpot” scene).
“Hitchhiker’s Guide” features a stunning array of visual styles and humorous effects. It also harbors a host of original characters, including my personal favorite, Marvin the manic-depressive robot. There’s also now a love interest for Arthur (played by “Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London” actress Anna Chancellor), as well as the leader of an hysterical religious sect (played by John Malkovich); fear not however, these were both added by Adams, and it shows.
Oh, and if you have any 3D glasses lying around (the red/blue kind, like the ones that come with the “Spy Kids 3″ DVD), bring them to the theater; there’s one scene about a minute long that is actually in 3D. Why? Because that’s the kind of movie this is: Wonderfully fun and full of bizarre little asides that demand multiple viewings. Maybe not quite 42, but at least a few. Grab a couple of friends (dolphins or mice are preferable; they’re more intelligent than you think) and see it. Once the Paris Hilton film hits the screens next week, I fully expect (if there is a higher power, God, or Supercomputer) an event of cataclysmic proportions to occur, and then it will be too late. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Pros: Exceptionally creative, stays true to the tone of the books (and radio plays), uproariously funny…
Cons: …but only if you actually like British humor (meaning: dry and full of non-sequiturs).
Review Rating: 4 out of 5 guys made of yarn doing the Technicolor Yawn.
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“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (2005)
110 Minutes; USA/UK
Rated PG for thematic elements, action and mild language.
Anna Chancellor (Questular Rontok)
Mos Def (Ford Prefect)
Martin Freeman (Arthur Dent)
Stephen Fry (Narrator)
John Malkovich (Humma Kavula)
Alan Rickman (Marvin)
Sam Rockwell (Zaphod Beeblebrox)
Directed by: Garth Jennings
Written by: Douglas Adams and Karey Kirkpatrick
Viewing Format: Theatrical Release. That’s all I have. Now go away.
(Originally published on SciFiWatch)