Wednesday, May 11, 2005
  Theatrical Review: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Wendy's Review

Let me first say that I have never read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. However, my ex-husband used to always read it, so I have heard of the book. Before I met my ex-husband, though, I had never heard of it. That is as far as my knowledge of the book goes. I know it exists, but I know nothing about it. Does that make me a bad geek?

I hadn’t really planned on going to see The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Then when I realized it was only rated PG, I decided it might be worth going to see as a family trip to the movies. So that is what we did. The kids were familiar with it due to the dozens of commercials they had seen during such wonderful kids programs like Ed, Edd and Eddy and Teen Titans. So the Sunday after The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy came out, we packed the car full of kids and headed to the theater. We hoped they at least would enjoy it.

We were running a little late, so I was getting nervous. The movie hadn’t started, but I had missed half of the preview for Zathura. What a bummer. I’ll have to look for it online. Usually when we go to the movies with the kids we have a seating arrangement. We sit the kids so that there are no kids sitting next to other kids. Three kids, two adults. We sit kid, adult…..and so on. However, since we were running late we just sat down, and all the kids were next to each other. This looked like a disaster waiting to happen. I was on pins and needles waiting for a fight to break out. The movie started, and there was no fighting. I let out a big sigh of relief, and I sat back and started watching the movie.

The first thing I remember noticing was Stephen Fry’s name listed in the opening credits. That made me happy considering that I didn’t know he was in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy before that moment. I sat back and watched the story about the dolphins at the beginning of the film, and the goofy song that went along with it. It was goofy, but it was cute and I liked it.

Then Mos Def as Ford Prefect showed up. He was probably my favorite thing about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Well, I take that back... Marvin (voiced so well by Alan Rickman) was my favorite; mostly because of his wonderful view on life. Anyhow, Ford Prefect was my favorite person in the movie. I really liked Trillian (Zooey Deschanel) as well, but overall I think that the character was just a waste of Zooey Deschanel’s acting talent. I found Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox to be completely annoying. Honestly, I didn’t even know it was Sam Rockwell until the film was over. The only other movie I have seen him in was Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and that is a totally different role from Zaphod.

I like all of the scenes where the ship that they are on in space has to change forms. Those scenes were always very visually entertaining. Those parts of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy were the parts that I am sure director Garth Jennings had the most fun with considering his past history in directing music videos.

Overall, I thought that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a fun little movie. It never really drew me. I suppose if I had been more familiar with the material, I may have enjoyed it more. I thought the film looked great, but the acting was just mediocre. And I just didn’t really understand what was going on. However, the kids seemed to enjoy it. Especially my daughter, and she hates everything.

Darrell's Review

I get the impression that The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is like a cross between Star Trek and Monty Python... but not as funny as Monty Python and not as overwhelmed with it’s own self seriousness as Star Trek. Maybe? I don’t know, really... that’s just my take on it. I’m probably offending people who really enjoy the book and/or books with that nutshell summary. I can hear them now, articulating with great angst and rage all the reasons why Hitchhiker is both funnier and smarter and better than Monty Python, Star Trek, whatever, yadda, yadda, yadda. Look, cut me some slack... I went into the theater knowing nothing about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I left still feeling that I didn’t know anything about it. It was confusing and random and odd, and I suppose it was exactly what fans of the books wanted. If so, I’m happy for them.

Since I’ve taken a stab at summing up the ethos of Hitchhiker in a nutshell, I’ll try to sum up the plot that way, too. Step by step, here’s what I remember of the film, presented as

Darrell’s 12 Step Guide To The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
01. Dolphins sing and dance.
02. Aliens that look like something out of one of Roger Waters’s nightmares blow up the earth.
03. Loser gets on a spaceship with his buddy, the rap star.
04. Loser laments that he didn’t get the girl.
05. Pink Floyd Alien thing crushes crab.
06. Loser and rap star get on another spaceship piloted by David Lee Roth (as portrayed by Sam Rockwell) and the loser’s lamented lady love.
07. David Lee Roth has two heads.
08. John Malcovich has no legs.
09. Where did that whale come from?
10. That sad robot sounds like Alan Rickman. Remind me to check the credits.
11. Those bastard mice! No, wait a minute... those two creepy little bastard kids!
12. Yep, I thought it was Alan Rickman.

I didn’t get it... but the woman sitting behind me in the theater loved it. She also loved the books and/or the BBC tv series, as she adequately proved to me by RECITING LONG PASSAGES OF DIALOGUE ALONG WITH THE CHARACTERS, TELLING HER FRIEND WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT, AND TELLING HER FRIEND THAT, SEE, SHE’D BEEN RIGHT ABOUT WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT.

I laughed a few times. Sam Rockwell got on my nerves. Mos Def is an OK actor. Zooey Deschanel is cute and a decent actress. 42 is neither the meaning of life, nor a funny response to the question of the meaning of life.

Not the best movie I ever saw, not the worst. The kids got a kick out of it, and, as we’d heard, there was nothing in there that was inappropriate for family viewing. Overall, I wish we’d saved the money for Star Wars.

Too funny. I've read the books, listened to the radio serial, and put up with Joe going on and on about it. (He's a much bigger geek than me). I think I would probably enjoy the movie, but alas baby is too small yet.

I think, like many sci-fi and fantasy novels turned movies, there is ultimately a group of people who get a big thrill out of seeing their favorite tales on the big screen. For instance, with LOTR, that group is huge. For "Hitchhiker", that group isn't so big, but the book still makes a good movie in terms of looks, so the production companies go ahead with it. But this may be a good example of how you can be too dedicated to the fans and not put enough in for lay-folks to really enjoy themselves.

But what do I know.
I liked everything that was true to the books, only marginally smiled at the Simpsonesque/RedDwarf tangent story with Trillian that I don't think happened in the books, and definitely didn't happen in the first one. Zaphod was nothing like how I pictured but most of the others were good. Marvin was perfect with Rickman voicing him, though you have to feel a little bad that this is what Warwick Davis is reduced to now. He probably grumbles about it over drinks with Kenny Baker.

I thought Slartibartfast's tour was very well done and I hope you folks stayed for that extra little anecdote from the guide at the end of the credits. I'd give the movie a 3, maybe even a 3.5. I loved the whale in the book, and I was so glad to see it. I suspect that woman that was talking probably ruined that part for you....

42 is NOT the meaning of life. It's the answer to the question of LIFE, the UNIVERSE, and EVERYTHING. You just don't know what that question is...
Usually we do stay for the end of the credits, but we didn't this time because I had to use the ladies room really bad. Oh well.
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