The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and its four sequels (in the trilogy, of course) have delighted science fiction fans for nearly three generation. Adams, who died of a heart attack in 2001, was a clever writer, and frequently went on random tangents touching upon all sorts of topics in a whimsical way. Hitchhiker was already adapted on the radio, is an extremely difficult book to adapt into film. In fact, Adams spent nearly two decades (before his untimely death) adapting the film version. Karey Kirkpatrick (The Little Vampire, Chicken Run) completed the adaptation, and Garth Jennings (who has previous experience in television and music video) directed.

As it stands, Hitchhiker's Guide is a mixed bag. It is a film that is all over the place, sometimes clever and funny, other times extremely dull. The one definite aspect of it is that it has a very old-fashioned feel to it. Instead of going for CGI overkill, Jennings restrained himself and used lots of actual props. The jokes and gags do not try to be cutting edge, but retain a timeless, almost silly feel to them. And the cast is full of fantastic talent, sometimes used sparingly.

The film begins with the destruction of Earth. Ford Prefect (Mos Def, The Woodsman, The Italian Job), actually an alien, takes his friend Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman, Shaun of the Dead, Love, Actually) into space before Earth explodes. Prefect writes for The Hitchhiker's Guide, a souped-up PDA/encyclopedia with all sorts of knowledge. They embark on a series of barely connected adventures with the fugitive President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell, Matchstick Men, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind) and fellow earthling Trillian (Zooey Deschanel, Eulogy, Elf). A minor love triangle develops between Trillian, Dent, and Beeblebrox, who stole her away from Dent a few weeks earlier. As always, Deschanel plays the lone voice of reason in an otherwise insane world. Rockwell channels George W. Bush.

The Vogons, a hulking species with bad poetry skills, destroyed the Earth to make way for an intergalactic bypass. They are also the ones hunting after Beeblebrox, albeit ineptly. The quartets of fugitives goes randomly from one place to the next, encountering all sorts of weird things while Kirkpatrick and Adams slowly develop a burgeoning romance between Dent and Trillian. There's a very scattershot feel to the way that the film comes together, and this comes from the source material. Things like the song "So long, and thanks for the fish" do not work that well, but the Marvin character (a voiced wonderfully by Alan Rickman, Love, Actually, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), a depressed android. Unfortunately, most of the film is a mixed bag, with some inspired material falling in between duller areas.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Rated PG for thematic elements, action, and mild language.

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