The Hitchhikerís Guide to the
by Tony Medley
A long time in coming, The
Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy (HGC) first saw life on BBC Radio 4 in
1978 as a part sci-fi space odyssey, part satirical comedy, and part
inquiry into the nature of life by Douglas N Adams, who had studied
English literature at Cambridge, and was a comedy writer who had worked
with Monty Pythonist Graham Chapman. So successful, he turned it into a
book that became sort of a cult classic in the late Ď70s early Ď80s. Maybe
itís not a cult because the publisher claims sales of more than 16 million
in the last quarter century. Now, courtesy of Disney, Director Garth
Jennings and screenwriters Adams (who died of a heart attack in 1998
shortly after completing the second draft of a screenplay) and Karey
Kirkpatrick, who was brought in after his demise to make Adamsí script
more acceptable, it sees the light of day as a film.
Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman),
whose house is about to be torn down to build a freeway, is spirited away
on a spaceship seconds before the destruction of the earth. Clothed only
in his robe and slippers, this starts him on a quest with his alien friend
Ford Perfect (Mos Def) and the girl he desires, Trillian (Zooey Deschanel)
to find the meaning of life. From what I remember of the book, and I
didnít read much, I donít recall a romance. Regardless, it diminishes the
movie because itís so silly.
The movie is a devastating
satire on bureaucratic idiocies, epitomized in the bad guys, the Vogons,
who are described as ďbureaucrats of the universe, armed with awful
poetry.Ē They are hateful and ugly.
The peripatetic quest takes him
from one corner of the universe to the other, all satirical and with
tongue planted firmly in cheek. Accompanying them is Zaphod Beeblebrox
(Sam Rockwell), the two headed Galactic President. Among those filling out
the rest of the cast are Jim Hensonís puppets, who present Star Wars type
creatures too horrible to describe.
One of the puppets who is well
translated from the book is Marvin the Paranoid Android, built by Sirius
Cybernetics Corporation. He is always miserable and looking to make the
worst of any situation. Without a mouth, he always looks miserable because
he always ducks his head and has a negative throw-away line about all the
things that occur.
I must admit I wasnít a fan of
Adamsí book. I heard about it, got it, started it, and couldnít finish it.
But I can see that if you did like the book you should love the movie
because itís imaginatively produced.
This is a light hearted journey
though the universe with lots of jokes. I didnít think the satire was that
clever, but others might disagree with me. Iím hedging on this review
because even though I wasnít enthused about it, I can see how others could
love it. Itís on the cusp. I thought the script was disjointed and didnít
make much sense. But thatís probably what they were shooting for. It is
nonsense, but itís aiming for a goal about the meaning of life. And to
make their point, they couldnít have been logical. Even though I wasnít
thrilled with it, it could be a hit.
April 26, 2005