Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


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"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."










The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Masked Reviewer

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, looks awesome.

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 most.

The Cons: Like the book, it's a bit all over the place.  It ends before everything has been adequately resolved. 

Hitchiker's Guide

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