Earth is destroyed, but luckily guy-next-door Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is
best friends with an alien named Ford Prefect (Mos Def, "The
Woodsman"), who saves Arthur's life by thumbing a lift on the ginormous
spaceship which has just played a rather big part in Earth's destruction.
Obviously, Arthur is very confused. He proceeds on a journey around the Galaxy,
accompanied by the Hitchhiker's Guide and the Galactic President (Sam Rockwell,
in search of the question to the answer of life, the universe and everything.
the big-budget release of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the
Galaxy", it's time to throw in the towel (however useful it might
be) on this whole Hitchhiker's Guide saga. After taking form as a radio
series, record album, five book trilogy, TV series, comic book and stage
show, this film is surely the end of it all. It's certainly the end of
Earth. As soon as our lovely beautiful planet is wiped off the galactic
map, Arthur is catapulted into unfamiliar and very, very strange
alien creatures are very creatively devised, Vogons especially, looking
exactly like the bureaucratic, suit-wearing miseries they are. Most of
the jokes, like those in the books, are funny in that British random
sort of way that some people just don't get. On the other hand, maybe a
spot of Earthly patriotic randomness is just what we need. We can expect
to be blown away watching "Star
and "Sin City",
and wouldn't we all prefer to do so whilst drinking a nice cup of tea?
If Slartibartfast (Bill Nighy, "Shaun
of the Dead") is proud of our outdated little planet, then we
should be too. We don't need Gotham City or Coruscant, we have the
chilly and familiarly dull British West Country.
Dent wanders through the Galaxy in his pajamas and is as bewildered as
we are. He is however, surprisingly chilled, really taking the Guide's
'Don't Panic' suggestion to heart. In fact, Arthur seems more concerned
with his gal (Zooey Deschanel, "Elf")
and the dilemma as to whether he should call her Trisha or Trillian –
oh the problems he faces! Sam Rockwell dazzles as the schizophrenic,
alarming and mischievous – to say the least – Zaphod Beeblebrox.
(Does having two heads preclude schizophrenia? Or is he the ultimate
schizo prototype?) His irresponsibility as Galactic President is played
perfectly, and Rockwell's gaudiness and flamboyance are just
over-the-top enough to amuse and exasperate.
screenplay crams in the overall gist of the five books quite neatly,
although never really being sure of the plot, it drifts along like a
hitchhiker languishing in passport control at a Vogon airport. This is
not necessarily a bad thing though. We are allowed to watch all the
weird and wonderful goings-on in a galaxy governed (or not) by Zaphod,
without being particularly worried about the safety of the characters.
The thing with comedies is that we know no one we care about is going to
die. Therefore, there is no opportunity to build suspense.
Hitchhiker's Guide does try to build suspense when Trillian is being
lowered towards the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, when to be
honest, we'd much rather hear another rendition of the fabulous dolphin
choral ode "So Long and Thanks for all the Fish" instead of Trillian's half-hearted screams,
as it takes twenty minutes for her to be lowered three feet.
many, the funniest moment in the books was discovering that the hugely
anti-climactic answer to life, the universe and everything, is 42.
That's just pure genius! However, the film downplays the momentousness
of this revelation by condensing the story of the huge supercomputer
into a couple of minutes of screentime – even less time than is given
to Vogon poetry, which we all know is a very bad thing. Hitchhiker's
Guide gets back on track when we get to Slartibartfast and his tour of
Earth II, and when the
mice show themselves for what they really are: annoying, devious and
irritating – hmmm, not much change there then...
Overall, the film takes the same attitude as the
novels, which relegated philosophical meanderings to comic parodies,
taking a tongue-in-cheek look at life as we know it; blissfully ignorant
of all the possibilities of infinite probability, and how lucky we are
that we don't quite know what's out there. The jokes are old but luckily
they are well-loved and still decently funny. For those people who read
film reviews hoping for an elucidation of the deeper meaning of the
film, it can safely be said that the meaning of the film is roughly, and