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Movie Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

Before I begin, I must ask each and every die-hard Douglas Adams enthusiast to please take a deep breath and let go of all that you know about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, TV show, radio program, and even computer game.

When this was released 7 years ago, I was aware of Douglas Adams, I had read the book and I was a fan – but not rabidly so.  I’m not going to compare, contrast or reference the book in this review.  For the sake of argument, I am going to pretend the previous incarnations do not exist and imagine this film as a complete entity in and of itself. Ready? Excellent.

If I go to the movies now, I find that maybe one trailer out of the 5 or 6 they show before a feature interests me at all. My reactions are usually “That looks ridiculous.”, “Still no original movies in Hollywood, eh?”, “I’d watch it…on Netflix.” or “Ooh, the explosions look good!” The trailer for this movie caught my attention, though…

So with great anticipation, I go to the theater with friends, and cross my fingers hoping for entertainment.

At 2 minutes and 20 seconds into the opening sequence, I turn to the friend on my right and declare that this is the best movie I have ever seen and already make plans to own it when it’s released on disc.  What ELSE could the reaction be to dolphins singing a happy little ditty about the destruction of Earth?

The Story

Arthur Dent lives a quiet life in the English countryside when his best friend Ford Prefect saves his life by stowing away a nearby starship just before the world explodes.  Arthur spends the rest of the movie trying to get his brain to process the bizarre things he sees.

The Main Cast

Martin Freeman (Arthur Dent) will likely be best known for playing Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming Hobbit series, but has an impressive resume beyond that as well.  He plays Arthur as the confused and baffled bloke who just stumbles through every situation completely confused and baffled as to how he survived the last one.  It’s easy to connect with him, especially if you are not familiar with the universe Douglas Adams has created. Best single line: “OK. Leave this to me. I’m British. I know how to queue.”

Mos Def (Ford Prefect) is a delightful surprise as the galaxy-trotting alien who ended up stranded on Earth and befriends Arthur.  He’s Arthur’s personal guide through the film, teaching him about life beyond planet Earth without being condescending, but also showing himself to have his own vices and faults that can trip him up.  His comedic timing and delivery is fantastic, and I could not imagine anyone else in that role. Best single line: “If you want to survive out here, you’ve got to know where your towel is.” tied with “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so.”

Sam Rockwell (Zaphod Beeblebrox) tackles the grand job of playing the President of the Galaxy, who decides to “kidnap himself” and steal the state-of-the-art spaceship Heart of Gold in order to go on a treasure hunt, taking the rest of the group along for the ride.  He has cited Elvis Presley, Bill Clinton and over-the-top rockstars as influences for his take on the role, and brings an adventurous, daffy, charming, energetic chaos to the group. Best single line: “If there’s anything around here more important than my ego, I want it caught and shot right now!”

Zooey Deschanel (Trillian/Tricia McMillan) takes the role of the free-spirited girl looking for fun and excitement when she meets Arthur at a party, only to be whisked off by Zaphod when Arthur’s nervous reservations fall flat with her.  She is intelligent, and intrigued by the universe as a whole, while constantly having to watch that Zaphod doesn’t accidentally kill everyone. Best single line: “Buttons aren’t toys!”

The movie also boasts Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast, the designer of planets who is particularly proud of his fjords, Helen Mirren as the voice of Deep Thought, the supercomputer that calculated the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything as “42”, Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin the pathetic robot, and Stephen Fry who narrates (and does the audiobook – I WANT!).

Everyone comes together for a wacky adventure where “Belgium” is a curse word, poetry can be deadly, and there’s nothing harder to remove from your front lawn than a pile of depressed Vogons.  I LOVED this film… it’s funny, witty, surprising, entertaining, quirky, and just plain fun!

Of course I snatched up a copy as soon as it was released, and one of my favorite bits was the “Making of…” in the extras. Thankfully, YouTube has it (but if you’d rather watch the whole movie first, SCROLL DOWN!):



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