The Hitchhiker's Guide to... (2005)
Review Date: April 28, 2005
Director: Garth Jennings
Writer: Douglas Adams, Karey Kirkpatrick
Producers: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Nick Goldsmith, Jay Roach
Martin Freeman as Arthur
Mos Def as Ford Prefect
Zooey Deschanel as Trillian
Based on the popular book, this film begins with an alien-of-sorts helping a human-being hitchhike his way away from planet Earth, before it gets zapped into nothingness. Once stuck in space with the odd man, who was apparently just visiting our planet in order to update the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy manual, the twosome meet up with several other weirdos and get into all kinds of wacky adventures. Humor is supposed to ensue, but most of it just went right over my head.
About 15 minutes into this movie, with some folks laughing around me, others seemingly having a good time, I realized that this film simply “wasn’t for me” and that I wasn’t likely to get much out of it. A couple of hours later, as the fans of the Douglas Adams book on which this film is based, filed out of the theater, applauding at will, I pretty much confirmed that the film “wasn’t for me”, as not much about its story, its humor or its characters connected with me on any level. That’s not to say that the film sucked, just that…it wasn’t my kind of movie or humor. I hope that doesn’t sound like a cop-out or anything, since I did appreciate most of its actors, particularly Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel (love those eyes) and the great Sam Rockwell, the film’s impressive special effects (loved the “tour through Earth”) and many of its gadgets and original premise, but in the end, whether it was 15 minutes into the picture, or a couple of hours after its opening, I simply could not have cared less about any of the people on the screen or their so-called fantasy world or characters’ complicated names, etc… I didn’t think the towels were funny, I didn’t appreciate any of the narration or the cut-in scenes in which things were explained to the audience via cartoon sketches, I didn’t smile when the doors “sighed” when they opened or when the characters were constantly smacked in the face by giant fly-swatters…I simply didn’t get into any of it! I’m also probably one of the few people who actually thought Marvin the robot’s voice was badly cast in Alan Rickman. He sounded too old for that character, who looked like a young, cuter-sounding robot.
For anyone wondering if I’d read the novel, the answer is “no”, but as I’ve already gone on record in many of my previous films-based-on-a-book reviews before, I don’t think that should have anything to do with an audience member’s appreciation of a movie—particularly since the studio isn’t exactly handing the books out as folks are walking into the theater. I’ve also never been a fan of British humor (that’s right, the Monty Python flicks never did it for me either), so I’m sure that didn’t help. But less subjectively, I have to say that the film really doesn’t have much of a “story” going for it other than the fact that planet Earth is blown to smithereens, and a couple of its surviving members travel through the galaxy, getting into “wacky adventures”, I guess. Even the so-called “bad guys” (who look like giant rejects from that “Fraggle Rock” TV show) are admittedly not “evil”, but simply overly bureaucratic. Hmmmm, sorta funny, I guess. But when the entire basis of their appearances revolves around them asking people to fill out forms , and this task isn’t particularly humorous to you, things sorta get stale with them after a while, and you wonder what the heck the film’s obstacles are anyway. Hell…even Rockwell’s fun, over-the-top performance started grating at me after a while (and I love that guy!).
Anyway, like I said at the beginning of my review…I think this film is simply a case of me not “getting” the humor, the inside jokes or the particular attraction of this story. That said, and being as much of that is subjective, maybe you will – particularly if you’re a fan of the book (my sister, with whom I saw the film and who had read the book, enjoyed it quite a bit, so there).
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian