Douglas Adams is the man responsible for many incarnations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy including a radio series, a number of books and a low budget TV series. It was always his dream to make a big screen version but unfortunately it did not receive a green light until after his untimely death at the age of 49 in 2001. Thankfully it was finally given the go ahead and has remained a British production in the hands of Adams’ friends and colleagues.The movie starts with Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), an average guy having a particularly bad day. His house is about to be demolished to make way for a bypass and he discovers his best friend, Ford Prefect (Mos Def), is an alien who reveals that Earth will be destroyed by an alien race in minutes. Arthur’s only chance of survival is to hitch a ride with Ford on a passing Vogon spaceship. Arthur sets out on a journey in which he finds that nothing is as it seems: he learns that a towel is just the most useful thing in the universe, goes on a quest to find the meaning of life, and discovers that everything he needs to know can be found an electronic pocket book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Along the way they team up with the President of the universe Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), Trillian (Zooey Deschanel) an astrophysicist Arthur knew from Earth and the severely depressed robot Marvin (voiced by Alan Rickman).
The casting of HGTTG is superb. Martin Freeman, who most would know asTim from TV’s The Office, is great as the everyman who is reluctantly forced into an intergalactic adventure, Sam Rockwell hilariously hams it up as the two headed rock star President and no one other than Alan Rickman could have made Marvin sound any more down in the dumps. Stephen Fry provides the narration and there are some fun cameos too, particularly good is Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast and John Malkovich as an intergalactic evangelist named Humma Kavula.
The special effects are stunning and Jim Henson’s Creature Workshop were brought in to design the rather vulgar looking Vogons as well as some other bizarre aliens that inhabit this odd universe. The screenplay remains quite faithful to the source material and the humour is very British – think Monty Python making The Fifth Element and you’d be on the right track.
Overall this big screen treatment of HGTTG is as good as one could expect considering the screenplay is not wholly Douglas Adams’. I am sure that diehard fans will find plenty to complain about but on it’s own merits, it is still a very funny and highly entertaining romp into outer space.
Although it does not have the constant belly laughs one might anticipate there are still some standout moments of hilarity and it does have you smirking all the way through.Although it does not have the constant belly laughs one might anticipate there are still some standout moments of hilarity and it does have you smirking all the way through.