Don't Panic! And if you do, bring a
towel. And if you don't know what that means, stick a babel fish
in your ear! And if none of this makes any sense, then you
probably aren't a huge fan of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Based on the four (or five) book trilogy by the late Douglas Adams,
Hitchhiker's Guide is an adaptation of the book/BBC radio show.
It's wacky, it's metaphysical, it's British. The books were and
are a rally point for nerds. The film tries to be a bit more
mainstream, although it's almost certainly too cerebral to be a big hit.
The joy of the books came from a flowery and wandering silliness.
This isn't hard core sci-fi, and it's not Airplane in space (also
known as Airplane 2). There's a lot of stuff thrown at you,
and if you remember the books, a lot of it will stick and make you
laugh. If you haven't read the books, it's still an entertaining
(though hectic) romp through the universe. But, the film isn't a
great choice if you don't want to turn on your brain at all. You
can sit there and stare at the pretty images, and there will still be a
couple of laughs, but this is not a movie that will win over the
Entirely Uneducated crowd. But hey, if you're reading the Masked
Reviewer, we already know that you're a genius!
The film is directed by Garth Jennings. "Who the hell is that?"
you might ask. No, it's not some genetic fusion experiment to
create the ultimate country-western star. It's some guy.
He's done some music videos, apparently. The direction in the film
is okay, although it lacks...direction. That's not so much the
fault of the director, however, because the Hitchhiker's Guide
does bop around a lot. There are a lot of sidetracks and segues
and meanderings in the books, and Garth Jennings did a good job of
keeping the feel of the book in a fast-paced comedy.
The film definitely does not suffer from lack of production values.
That's a double negative which should be viewed as a positive. In
other words, the production values are amazing. Especially for a
sci-fi silly comedy. A lot of money was put into animatronic
puppets, which are -- strangely -- some of the best you've ever seen.
In particular, the facial expressions and lip movements are excellent.
They look much better than CGI. There is plenty of that too, and
it's all used to great effect. Zaphod Beeblebrox, in particular,
The casting is excellent, for the most part. If you like to
play "guess who the voice is" you may want to skip this paragraph.
Martin Freeman (no relation to the star of the computer game Half-Life)
is Arthur Dent. You may remember him if you've seen the
original BBC version of "The Office". Also, he was the porn
stand-in in Love, Actually. He is, as the British people
say, "brilliant." Mos Def, who you may remember as Left Ear from
The Italian Job gives a perfect performance as Ford Prefect.
That role, in particular, seemed like it could fall flat in the film,
and Mos Def most definitely gave it a new life. Sam Rockwell as
Zaphod Beeblebrox is inspired. John Malkovich plays the evil Humma
Kavula, though he doesn't get much screen time to work with. Bill
Nighy (Shaun of the Dead, Love Actually, Underworld) is awesome,
as always. The voice talent, which includes Stephen Fry as the
narrator, Helen Mirren as Deep Thought, and Alan Rickman as Marvin are
all perfectly cast and bring the movie to life. Zooey Deschanel
plays Trillian, and she's not bad, though she doesn't add much.
On top of everything else, Hitchhiker's Guide also has a
musical number! What more could you want?
The biggest shortcoming of the film is that it just sort of stops
without really resolving very much. There's plenty of source material to
draw from, so perhaps The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
won't be far behind.
If you love the book, you'll enjoy the movie. If you like witty
British comedic sci-fi, this one's for you. If you don't fall into
either of those categories, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will
appeal to people who like goofy brainy humor. You know that's you.
It's worth checking out.
Expectation from the Title: This might have something to do
with space travel, perhaps it's a documentary film about a comet.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
Sometimes it's good to be silly.
The Pros: Fine performances, excellent effects and puppetry,
nostalgic recreation of a funny book, humorous moments to be enjoyed by
The Cons: Like the book, it's a bit all over the place.
It ends before everything has been adequately resolved.