Director: Garth Jennings
Cast: Martin Freeman, Zooey Deschanel, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, Bill Nighy, Warwick Davis, Alan Rickman, Anna Chancellor, Stephen Fry, Helen Mirren, Bill Bailey, John Malkovich
Synopsis: A story adapted from the first of the series of books written by Douglas Adams. Arthur Dent (Freeman) escapes Earth moment before its destruction with the aid of his best friend, Ford Prefect (Def), whom as it turns out was an alien all along. Ford writes for the renowned Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (voiced by Fry). Their travels intersect with the those of Ford’s cousin and President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox (Rockwell), and his travelling companion Trillian (Deschanel), who is the only other remaining survivor of Earth.
A review by Film Nerd.
I was quite a fan of the Hitchhiker’s Guide as a series of books, the infamous trilogy in five parts. It was a series that was all about the ridiculous, and not to everyone’s sense of humour. I was often quite tickled by it, so the prospect of a movie to me was quite a thing of anticipation. The fact that Adams himself had contributed a lot of the screen play before his passing was promising, the fact he had taken so long to get it successfully off the ground was not.
But on the surface of things, there were a lot of smart choices made with this film. Freeman has always made the perfect “every man”, and was ideally cast as the always bathrobe wearing Arthur Dent. Mos Def I was unfamiliar with, which concerned me, and though there is nothing wrong with the performance it was not necessarily brilliant either. My love for Deschanel is well on record, once again in the type of role she has made her own, the independent woman who is more quirky than harsh. Rockwell is let off his leash in full crazy mode, and can be a true delight in this film. Then just look above at a lot of the rest of the acting talent, including Rickman voicing Marvin the Paranoid Android, and Fry’s dulcet tones filling in for both Narrator and the guide itself. So really, the casting in most cases could not be more spot on.
The film also opens brilliantly, taking Adams’ record of the last communication from dolphins to humans; “So long, and thanks for all the fish”, and making an opening credits song out of it, is just what is needed to break the audience out of normality and into the realm of Adams mind. And yet from that point on, the film is somewhat lacklustre. Adams comedy does not always shine through, with some of the less famous lines from the novel feeling somewhat flat on delivery. Despite all the brilliant individual performances, they somehow do not add up to a whole that is entirely enjoyable. It is hard to pin-point where things go wrong, yet somehow they do. There are moments that are great, breaking up a rather ordinary film. It is a real shame, as this had the potential to be gut-bustingly funny, and yet it is just a pleasant time-waster.
My recommendation? If you are unfamiliar with the books and curious, give it a look, but at your own peril. This makes some of Adams’ work look kinda boring, so you could unfairly pre-judge the books before reading them for yourself. If you have an open mind though, there is enough here to enjoy. If you are already a fan, it perhaps is more entertain knowing the source material, and yet you will be disappointed knowing what this film could have been.
2.5 stars (out of a possible 5)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on IMDB
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on Rotten Tomatoes