The Hitchhikers’ Guide To The Galaxy

Hitchhikers’ is one of those things that seems to attract terrifying level of devotion from people. Not quite as scary as Star Trek or Dr Who, but scary. In fact there’s something about it’s roots as a Radio 4 radio programme’s that allows it to have a certain intellectual cache. I’ve never been a particularly big fan of the television programme’s, the books, or, indeed, the radio programme’s (strangely, until now that they’re adapting the books that were never radio to start with – they seem to work better).

There’s a myriad stories about the stateside journey of this script. All I I’ll say is that finally the Hollywood movie has surfaced. And, to be honest, who it’s for I do not know.

Casting’s not bad. ‘The Office’s’ Martin Freeman (to give him his full name – he’ll always be the bloke from the noodle adverts to me) as Arthur Dent is so obvious as to be nearly boring. He acquits himself as effortlessly as usual, which is nothing to hold against him I suppose. Mos Def provides a nicely understated Ford Prefect. Adams’ chum, everyone’s favourite smug posh git, Stephen Fry pops up as the book. Another voice only is Alan Rickman as the legendary Marvin – The Paranoid Android. Och, and some other folk…

So, the council are about to destroy Dent’s home to make way for a bypass. He is not happy about this. However, as alien spaceships are about to destroy the earth to make way for another bypass (this time of the hyperspace variety) it would appear to be the least of his problems. Turns out his best friend is a hitchhiker from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and is going to save him. They hitch a ride on a Vogan ship where they are discovered, tortured by the third worst poetry in the universe and tossed out into space…

All well and good. And, indeed, very nicely done. Everything seems to be true to any ‘spirit’ you would expect. You’ve laughed out loud a few times and are settling in nicely to this. And, then, the film runs straight into a brick wall.

It coincides with the arrival of Zaphod Beeblebrox (the always excellent Sam Rockwell) and Trillian (relative newcomer Zooey Deschanel – who I can assure you will ge every cutesy ditsy chick in a movie for the next year, you will want to punch her). It’s not like they’re bad, just hte script seems to grind to a standstill. The pointless addition of the dreaded John Malkovich as the even more dreaded villain of the piece, and chucking away the entire character of Marvin are just some of the real ittitations in there. Even Def’s subdued performance begins to grate you just want him to flip out and go mad!!! It’s not happening.

Not enough theory, too much plot. I smell the messy fingers of audience testing.

Christ, even Bill nighy has some thing of the what-the-hell-have-I-got-myself-into about him as he does his usual show stealing.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

15 May 2005 at 9:47 am

Posted in Film

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