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Overall Rating

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 Jay Seaver

"Yes, they finally made this movie."
4 stars

One can be forgiven for not actually believing that a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie has actually been made. After all, the first paperback copy of the book I read in elementary school, about two decades ago, had a "soon to be a major motion picture" sticker on the front cover. At the time, it seemed likely enough - it had already been a radio show, a book, a television program, a record album that differed from the radio show, and a computer game. And yet it languished in development purgatory, with Michael Nesmith never seeming to find the money, Jay Roach never seeming to find the time, and writer Douglas Adams dropping dead of a heart attack while working out at the gym, an end he probably would have been amused by, though he (like us all) would have preferred it happen much, much later. My college-age brother was anxious to see it and wasn't born when the process began.

But, wonder of wonders, a movie has actually been made. A good one, too, with an appealing cast, many of Adams words (indeed, often whole sentences and even paragraphs) intact, excellent design, and much of the same sense of whimsy that made this story delightful in all of its iterations. That's a big accomplishment, since Adams's voice was distinctive: Playfully intelligent, cynical without being bitter, unrepentantly atheistic but still seeing the universe as full of beauty and wonder. Film is a highly collaborative medium, more so than any of the others, and it's easier for a writer's voice to get drowned out. Here, Adams isn't so much drowned out as much as music video director Garth Jennings and a team of production/costume/set designers elaborate on the ideas he tended to give a sentence or two before moving on to the next one. Adams's fingerprints are still all over the movie - other than adaptations of stage plays, I can't remember the last film where so much of the dialog came directly from the source material - but the visuals are all Jennings & company.

It's tempting to attribute to Karey Kirkpatrick, who revised the screenplay after Adams' death, the elements that bring the movie closest to the standard big-budget template. It's probably not completely fair, since Adams has changed the story every time he brought it to a new medium, but when so much of the film is eccentric, it's the more conventional elements that stand out. I also find it interesting that this is probably the most linear version of Hitchhiker yet; reading the books is a sensation not completely unlike surfing the web, as Adams would just drop something peculiar in the middle of the narrative, then quote the fictional Guide entry for it, which would lead to something else, until he brought things back to the main story. The movie still includes many of the book's digressions, but stops short of linking the digressions together or going into the digressions from the digressions. There's also a romantic subplot for Arthur and Trillian that wasn't in previous versions.

Ah, there I go, assuming the reader is familiar with the story already, which may not be the case (in which case you are unfortunate to have lived so long without it and lucky to have some great reading in your future). In short, Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is in rather a state because his house is about to be knocked down. His friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def) arrives at Arthur's house, finds him laying in front of a bulldozer, and tells him that it's worse than that; the whole planet, in fact, is scheduled to be demolished for a hyperspace bypass, which Ford knows because he's an alien from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. They escape when Ford beams them onto one of the ships that destroys the Earth, but are soon cast into the airless void of space, where at the very last possible second they are rescued, in a highly improbably manner, by Ford's cousin Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), Ford's two-headed-president-of-the-galaxy-cousin who stole a ship, and Tricia "Trillian" McMillan (Zooey Deschanel), his traveling companion whom Arthur once met at a party. Then, things get weird, as they're brought along on Zaphod's quest for the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

I'm impressed with the casting, mostly because the actors are all, with the exception of Alan Rickman as the perpetually-depressed voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android, pretty far from what I've imagined during this film's long germination period: Freeman is too young, Rockwell only seldom displays the prosthetics necessary for an extra head and arm, while Mr. Def and Ms. Deschanel are too, well, American. Surprisingly, though, it mostly works. Freeman is probably the weakest link as Arthur, never really reacting quite as strongly as the situation would seem to demand. Mos Def nails Ford, though, managing to make his character alien in body language and thought process despite his human appearance. Freeman is all manic, stupid energy as Zaphod, once again showing how amazing it is that the world barely acknowledges his existence as a hilarious comic actor.

Then there's Zooey Deschanel, who seems to have taken forever to get her big break but really hasn't; it's just that she's done three or for movies a year and been so memorable in in those movies, whether bit parts like in The Good Girl or leads like All the Real Girls, that the time seems to be right for her to make the big leagues. She's not what I expected of Trillian, but the thing is, Trillian in the source material is barely a character; she disappears somewhere around the second book and is barely recognizable when she returns (the character is served well by the changes to the story). Deschanel makes her a vital part of the ensemble.

If the movie had been made twenty years ago, it wouldn't just have had a different cast, but would have looked somewhat different, although not as different as one might think: The effects are well-done, but not particularly CGI-intensive, though one of my favorite sequences is digital: A pull-back from Earth to show the Vogon constructor fleet around the planet which makes about fifty stops, a great gag on cinematic convention. The aliens are almost all animatronic or prosthetic, as is Marvin, who is given remarkable personality not just by Rickman's voice, but by Warwick Davis' physical performance, in spite of his simple design.

This movie won't become the definitive version of the story for those who watch it, but that's a good thing. It works very well as one version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and is charming in its own right. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

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originally posted: 05/27/05 12:28:59
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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♫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
1/15/06 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
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
5/02/05 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
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  29-Apr-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Sep-2005



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