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Overall Rating
2.92

Awesome: 6.52%
Worth A Look34.24%
Average: 25.54%
Pretty Bad: 12.5%
Total Crap: 21.2%

13 reviews, 106 user ratings


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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"A little uneven, but far better than the ads would have you believe."
4 stars

Many of the television ads for “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” the long-awaited screen adaptation of the late Douglas Adams’s beloved tale, seem to be content to position the film as just another sci-fi extravaganza filled with weird-looking aliens, enormous spaceships and expensive special effects. If it were, indeed, just another sci-fi extravaganza that had nothing more on its mind than being two hours of mindless eye candy that would hopefully inspire a lot of toy sales, this would be the correct approach but in the case of this particular film, which is actually a sly bit of surreal comedy that just happens to feature weird-looking aliens, enormous spaceships and expensive special effects, it is actually the worst possible campaign with which to sell it. Those who have followed the story throughout its various incarnations over the years (originally a radio play in England, it has also been transformed into a novel, play, record album and television series) may assume that the quirky humor has indeed been removed (as was the fear during the two decades that the project spent in development hell) and stay away in drove while those who show up assuming that it will be just another bit of effects-driven nonsense will be bitterly disappointed by it refusal to color within the genre lines. As a result, a film that has, against all odds, emerged as a pretty entertaining work may actually be rejected by the masses because of the very publicity campaign that was designed to sell it to them in the first place.

This would be a shame but, in a weird way, it is the kind of absurdist situation that Adams himself might have appreciated. Like Monty Python (whom he worked with on occasion), Adams specialized in applying absolute logic to patently illogical situations (or vice-versa) and the comedy would grow as the two sides would inevitably collide. This approach is most evident in one of the opening scenes of the film, in which unassuming Brit Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) wakes up to discover that there are bulldozers surrounding his house to destroy it in order to make way for a new bypass–the plans announcing this were on display, but not, as we learn, in the most accessible of locations. While lying in front of the machines in protest, he is dragged away by his good friend, unemployed actor Ford Prefect (Mos Def) who informs him that his house is the least of his problems–Earth itself is slated to be destroyed in about twelve minutes in order to make way for an interstellar bypass. Sure, the Earthlings are somewhat perturbed by this, but if they didn’t have the initiative to develop the interstellar technology that would have allowed them to make the journey to the remote location where the plans announcing this were on display, they shouldn’t be crying about it now.<

Ford knows all of this, by the way, because he is actually an alien from a distant galaxy who has been spending time on Earth doing research for a new edition of that most important of books, “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.” Although his information may not be perfect (he chose his odd moniker on the mistaken assumption that it would sound like a completely common name), he does know enough of the important things–such as the fact that the most valuable item one can carry with them throughout the galaxy is a towel–to get them off Earth before it is destroyed by hitching a ride with a passing spaceship. From this point, they bounce around on a series of strange adventures that involve a manic-depressive robot (voiced by Alan Rickman), one absurd quest to find a gun with mysterious powers, an even-more-absurd quest to find the Ultimate Question to go along with the Ultimate Answer, intergalactic bureaucracy (“Your death may be monitored for training purposes”), the actual creator of the universe, the decidedly ugly and unpleasant aliens from the planet Vogon and, worst off, the even-more ugly and unpleasant Vogon poetry. Along the way, the duo run into Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), another Earth refugee whom the reserved Arthur met at a party, when she was known as Tricia McMillan, and didn’t quite hit it off with. Actually, she wound up going off that night with a far more flamboyant guy who turned out to be Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), a demented, two-headed (which allows Rockwell to chew twice as much scenery) egomaniac who is, almost inevitably, the President of the entire galaxy.<

Casual fans of the saga may be perplexed to discover that much of the storyline diverges considerably from its origins (the alien that looks like a cross between John Carpenter’s version of The Thing and Elton John and which is played by John Malkovich is a new addition, for example). Hard-core fans, on the other hand, will recall that all of the previous incarnations have spun Adams’s initial premise (all of which he has had a hand in, including this screenplay) off in new directions. This is actually a smart move on the part of the filmmakers because one of the central flaws in adapting a well-known sci-fi property to the screen is that the amazing sights and sounds have already be depicted so vividly in the minds of readers that any attempt to immortalize them on screen seems somehow disappointing by comparison. More importantly, most of the additions keep the same type of bent humor that made Adams’s work so appealing in the first place–such as the opening musical number entirely performed by dolphins (a song whose title is sure to please fans of the series) or a world where the central theology has developed in such a way that the Anti-Christ would presumably be the guy who invented Sudafed.<

This is funny, funny stuff, but “THGTTG” does have more than its share of rough spots as well. The chief problem is that it can never quite decide whether it wants to be a rambling, free-form romp (as the other versions, with their extended storytelling modes) or a standard plot-driven film. Either would have been acceptable (the former would have been preferable) but the film tries to have it both ways–it flits about with any number of digressions and then suddenly shifts back into narrative drive and expects viewers to just as suddenly care about the very things that we were just laughing at. The worst example of this comes at the end, where the climax comes so abruptly that we don’t even recognize it as such until the end credits begin to roll.

That flaw aside, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is, despite what the trailers might suggest, a quirky and funny film that may not be as good as some may have hoped but is nowhere near as bad as some may have feared. It has a lot of big laughs and it contains, in the character of Arthur Dent, the kind of sci-fi hero that many in the audience can genuinely relate to. In the face of the chaos of the universe, he reacts in perfectly logical ways–he isn’t happy and would frankly prefer to be at home in his bathrobe with a cup of tea. Nevertheless, he does possess the capabilities to rise to heroism when called upon–lucky for him to land in a story where he can save the comely babe’s life by standing in line at another bureaucratic office. (“I’m British–I know how to queue!”) It may not be perfect (or even Prefect) but I would gladly take it over any “Star Wars” film that I’ve seen in the last 25 years.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11932&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/29/05 14:00:12
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User Comments

12/24/15 brian If you have no expectations, it's nice lightweight fun. 4 stars
10/08/14 me worth a look 4 stars
7/28/12 Silkworm Dreadful rubbish - Just ask revolving Douglas !! 1 stars
2/15/12 Ron Larson Enjoyable, good cast 4 stars
5/14/11 Chipzsz First time i couldn't understand s**it, after reading the book is excellent, specially Marv 5 stars
6/14/10 LINDA DOWDY Hard to follow story line...was there a story line? 2 stars
6/09/10 Harvey Scott Fun but see the English version first. 3 stars
1/27/09 Shaun Wallner Very Interesting 4 stars
9/07/08 Samantha Pruitt did a good job re-telling the book, the effects were great! 4 stars
12/16/07 Jason The TV show sucked, this was only marginally better. 3 stars
5/20/07 fools&#9835;gold Damn funny at times and even thoughtful. Seaver knows... 4 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Watching Harry Potter suck his cock is more tolerable than this. 1 stars
2/20/07 Beau literally one of the worst overrated movies i have ever seen, utterly pointless crap 1 stars
1/05/07 Don't see the movie, read the book please please please read the excellent book and don't judge it by this crap 1 stars
1/02/07 Jamie I actually thought that is was a decent movie, ya'll need to shutup, if you don't like it.. 5 stars
11/14/06 Matt Read the book, then dont waste ur time on the movie 2 stars
10/10/06 Diana Starts out great, slowly gets worse, the end is terrible and sugary (PS- READ THE BOOK) 3 stars
9/02/06 Chad Thomas Okay... not great! 3 stars
6/05/06 Pete Smith Utter rubbish. Watch the BBC TV version instead. 1 stars
5/21/06 millersxing Sci-fi silliness. I'm no more likely to read the book than before. 3 stars
5/19/06 drydock54321 kind of dull 2 stars
3/30/06 alley brauwnstine 5 stars
3/13/06 Roderick Cromar Very disappointing. A wasted opportunity. Poor value. 2 stars
2/12/06 adamathwaxman you all are styupid. this is the best film in years.pick yourself with a sharp object. 4 stars
1/24/06 Michael Shaw If anyone thinks this movie was worth watcvhing they should get their head examined 1 stars
1/20/06 Mike Pulido Boy this movie sucked! 1 stars
1/18/06 DARIJA VAN HOUTEN IT WAS OK, BUT I'VE SEEN BETTER 3 stars
1/15/06 Perry Mason nice opening, down hill from there. 2 stars
12/14/05 deadfishrman maybe I just need to watch it again for 1 more star 3 stars
12/03/05 Jennifer S. Martin Freeman is pretty good in this, but Zooey Deschanel is her usual annoying self. 3 stars
11/13/05 cypress wasn't too impressed, expected more from this one 2 stars
10/27/05 East Asian Piss Fairly Good 4 stars
10/25/05 daveyt not worthy of the title... absolutely butchered 2 stars
10/09/05 Anus Adams is rolling in his grave. 1 stars
10/07/05 Chris Knight I was open mouthed it was so dreadful 1 stars
10/03/05 CaDizzle Don't judge the book by this movie, book is millions of times better 2 stars
9/27/05 rafi I actually liked it alot , fun movie! 5 stars
9/20/05 Vaughan What a disappointment, they ruined the jokes! 2 stars
9/19/05 Jonathon Holmes dogshit 1 stars
9/15/05 Tom Burns Not a great movie, but the scenery is pretty cool. 3 stars
9/06/05 chrissy b absolute rubbish - dire remake - why bother 1 stars
8/12/05 zaw is this movie based on a piece of crap book or what? 1 stars
8/09/05 Glagg Just not interesting or funny enough, gives book an undeserved bad rep. 2 stars
8/06/05 Zack DON'T PANIC! 5 stars
8/05/05 Kathy terPlugg Wasting away again in MAGRATHEAville 2 stars
7/22/05 Seen the movie, TOTALLY regretted it The movie was a REMAKE of Penis Spaceship movie of the 1960'70s 1 stars
7/09/05 Rebecca It implies the book itself is a piece of shit. It isn't. 3 stars
7/03/05 Eddie DUMBEST PIECE OF RANCID ANTI-CHRIST SHIT! 1 stars
6/28/05 Joe Pesci The film is crap. BUT READ THE BOOK - ITS AMAZINGLY GREAT. 1 stars
6/24/05 Eric Rollins The mini-series is so superior, skip this mess 2 stars
6/19/05 Sean Lane Awesome alternative to the regular garbage derivations. Didn't read the book. 4 stars
6/11/05 Krisan Graves what did i just watch? 3 stars
6/11/05 Captain Craig The only move I ever walked out on! A waist of money all around. dont bother! 1 stars
6/09/05 elpintogrande ADAMS ROLLING IN HIS GRAVE 1 stars
6/05/05 Ubu the Ripper Failed Disney attempt to cash in on pre-Star Wars hype. A true waste of film and my $10. 1 stars
6/04/05 Denise Gannon i loved the opening theme, but too much pointless chatting amongst charactors. 3 stars
6/04/05 Hack-SAW Don't know what to say about this... 3 stars
5/27/05 chris. this is what fans of the book like myself have been waiting for????? 3 stars
5/23/05 Green Gremlin Not as good as the classic BBC series, but still fun to watch 4 stars
5/22/05 Cham Book was pretty funny, but this is just plain bad. 1 stars
5/21/05 Tom Biegel Boring 2 stars
5/17/05 ad good for kids 3 stars
5/17/05 Hannah INSANITY!!! Don't see it in theaters...unless you are drunk! 1 stars
5/15/05 Bluto I wanted to like it so much, good visuals, thats about it 3 stars
5/14/05 MF A fun, if not wierd, movie that pales in compraison to the books. 3 stars
5/12/05 mwr truly awful, awkward and ugly - I fell asleep 1 stars
5/12/05 Jeff Baugh Read the books, seen the TV series, and heard the radio show. My rating? *****/***** 5/5 4 stars
5/12/05 Tyrantis The most entertaining film I've seen this year. 5 stars
5/12/05 maxomai Not the book. Who cares? Loved it. 5 stars
5/11/05 X worth the line wait 5 stars
5/10/05 nikki definately worth a look 5 stars
5/09/05 Snickerdoodle Weird in a good way, and very imaginative 4 stars
5/09/05 zeitgeist WTF is with the love story sub-plot? It ruined it. Stick to the book, kids 3 stars
5/07/05 Harry Knowles WORST. MOVIE. EVER. (ok, maybe not - battlefield earth holds that spot) 1 stars
5/07/05 Sir Spam-a-lot If only they had this kinda budget w/ the 1981 BBC Miniseries... 3 stars
5/06/05 KingNeutron Worst. Zaphod. EVAR. 2 stars
5/05/05 Christy Schultz Well, I have never read the book, but it was funny in some places, very stupid in others 2 stars
5/05/05 Ethan Acres Screenplay obviously written by Vogons 2 stars
5/05/05 ZF better than expected, very funny, great production design 4 stars
5/05/05 marya appalling, tripe, awful, unwarranted, Dear God, don't let them make a sequel! 1 stars
5/04/05 Integral Retarded, aimless, pointless, dull, WANT MY MONEY BACK!!! 1 stars
5/04/05 tmcmistress Lowtax: THINK. Idea-smiting shovels. on Vogon. Makes perfect sense. Well-done movie. 4 stars
5/04/05 Whatevr cool 5 stars
5/04/05 Mike Prentice Walked out after 40 minutes AND got my money back 1 stars
5/03/05 Aaron Smith Awful 1 stars
5/03/05 elpintogrande A pathetic attempt at forced humour. 1 stars
5/03/05 Tom Felt way more depressed than Marvin could ever be 1 stars
5/03/05 Lowtax So what was all that shovel face slapping time wasting crap about? 1 stars
5/03/05 Tommy It doesn't do justice to the book or to the fans. 1 stars
5/03/05 Anus HUGE STEAMING PILE OF BOREDOM. A DISGRACE TO THE BOOK 1 stars
5/02/05 jcjs loved it 5 stars
5/02/05 Elizabeth S Not very amusing; only enjoyed Rickman's excellent voice work. 2 stars
5/02/05 bullit16 What was laugh-out-loud funny in the book, just wasn't on the screen 3 stars
5/02/05 Teri SILLY 3 stars
5/02/05 Rageim Support the movie ,Maybe get better in next movie. 4 stars
5/02/05 Richard Sucked 1 stars
5/02/05 Dorothy Malm not bad but movies are rarely as good as the book 4 stars
5/02/05 Joe Buss Pretty funny 4 stars
5/01/05 herrinfamily none 3 stars
5/01/05 John Bale Strong supporting cast and Jim Hanson's monsters help this space satire 4 stars
5/01/05 Darren Shea Good, but not great. Likely to be a letdown if you've memorized the books,or other versions 4 stars
5/01/05 The Grinch Pretty damned good for 2 hours...I don't think Joe Moviegoer could've handled 3 hrs.. 4 stars
5/01/05 Titus Better than I feared, not as good as I hoped. Chuckle-worthy, not much more. 3 stars
4/30/05 Mahone Sucks beyond belief. Effects budget can't hide terrible effort. 1 stars
4/30/05 Gray tI could have been better but not much 4 stars
4/29/05 David M Rosonowski Played off elements from the radioplay, TV series and book. Loved it. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  29-Apr-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Sep-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  28-Apr-2005




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