The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

Posted by on Dec 22, 2011 in Out of This World | 0 comments

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Disclaimer: Sharp socio-political satire, and so it goes: “The best laid plans of mice (and men) often go awry.”

Even if you haven’t read the novels or comic books, heard the radio series or record albums, seen the stage show or television mini-series, or played the video games, you can still (and likely will) enjoy The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Though it’s fueled by social, political, and religious satire, not to mention the prevalence of human indifference, kids can enjoy it just as much as adults.

This quirky sci-fi comedy began in the brain of Douglas Adams, a Monty Python fan who agreed to develop a BBC radio series in 1977. It became such a smash hit (see the aforementioned list again) that Ivan Reitman, Bill Murray, and Dan Aykroyd nearly brought it to the screen instead of Ghostbusters. For this film version, which Adams co-wrote the screenplay for, bigwigs commissioned music video director Garth Jennings and a stellar cast of Britain’s finest for one truly wild ride.

It follows Arthur Dent (Martin Hitch2Freeman, of BBC’s The Office), who awakes one morning to find bulldozers taking down his house for a highway. Quickly his friend Ford Prefect (musician Mos Def) interjects, telling Arthur the planet is going to explode in 12 minutes. Soon after, a group of alien ships surround the planet with the intent of demolishing it for an interstellar express route. “Pathetic bloody planet, I have no sympathy at all,” a creature says before ordering the demolition.

Luckily, just before the explosion, Ford and Arthur hitch a ride and eventually meet up with the wacky president of the galaxy, Zephod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), who kidnapped himself and stole the most desired spacecraft in the galaxy. Also along for the ride is Tricia (Zooey Deschanel), a fellow human and love interest to Arthur, and a maniacally depressed robot (operated by Willow’s Warwick Davis and voiced by Alan Rickman). Somewhere in the galaxy, intelligent beings invented a super-computer (voiced by Helen Mirren) to calculate the answer to the “ultimate question” (presumably the meaning of life), which it devised to be 42. Now, the half-minded president is hoping to earn universal fame by discovering the ultimate question to match the answer.

Craziness ensues throughout this journey as unpleasant alien bureaucrats (who perform unspeakably poor poetry) are pursuing the president and the universe’s most intelligent beings are devising their own path to the ultimate question. Along the way we meet more interesting characters (Bill Nighy and John Malkovich, especially) and excellent outer space special effects. Though Zephod is insufferably stupid, Rockwell’s turn is especially hilarious as he unleashes one-liners like, “You’re too gorgeous baby; stop it, you’re driving me crazy” or “If there’s anything more important than my ego on this ship I want it caught and shot right now.”

While the kids can enjoy the creatures, fun effects, fast pace, and novelty, adults can try to comprehend the rich satire and sometimes-complicated plot. With language-translating fish, singing dolphins, and towels, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the strangest voyage in recent memory, but a rewarding and comic one, too.

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