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Don't panic! After twenty years stuck in development (a mere blink compared to how long it takes to find the answer to life, the universe, and everything), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has finally been turned into a movie. Following the radio play, TV series, commemorative towel, and books, this latest installment in the sci-fi-comedy franchise is based on the screenplay and detailed notes by Douglas Adams.
Hitching a ride.
For those unfamiliar with the story, everyman Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) wakes up one morning to discover that his house is set to be demolished to make room for a bypass. Little does he know the entire planet Earth is also set to be destroyed for an interplanetary bypass by the Vogons, a hideous and bureaucratic race of aliens realized in the film by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. Whisked off the planet by his best friend, alien-in-disguise Ford Prefect (Mos Def), Dent embarks on a goofy jaunt across the galaxy accompanied by his trusty Hitchhiker's Guide, which looks like a really fancy PDA.
The guide itself provides some of the funniest bits of the movie, little animated shorts that explain the ludicrous life forms and extraterrestrial phenomena our heroes encounter. Along the way Arthur meets the two-headed party animal/president of the galaxy Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) and develops an unrequited crush on fellow earthling Trillian (Zooey Deschanel). The creatures and sets are inspired and answer to the sci-fi fan's primal need to see lots and lots of cool stuff. In particular, there's John Malkovich's creepy, CGI-enhanced Humma Kavula. He's a guru leading a religion that worships the gigantic nose that allegedly sneezed the universe into existence (naturally all their prayers end not with "Amen" but with "Bless you.") The aliens the team encounters are inspired creations, eminently worthy of action figure-ification, and the sets belie an attention to detail worthy of freeze-framing. Fans of the other Hitchhiker manifestations, namely the British TV series, will be amused by a number of in-jokes sprinkled throughout the movie.
Concept art: The Heart of Gold pod on the planet Vogsphere
Where the story stumbles is in the telling--as books, the Hitchhiker's Guide was foremost about goofy and brilliant ideas that raised questions about our place in the universe while getting a laugh. The cast seems at times bewildered, at least when Sam Rockwell isn't picking pieces of scenery out of his teeth, perhaps a natural reaction to an adaptation of a book with no traditional plot. The movie has enough trouble figuring out how to get the characters from one fantastical location to the next that Adams's funniest concepts often feel left in the dust. While the reverence the filmmakers felt toward Adams's legacy is apparent, one wonders what we could have expected had the creator of this science fiction universe lived to see it with his own eyes. -- Ryan Boudinot
A Guide to the Guide
The Radio Play (CD)
The TV Series
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide (Deluxe Edition)
The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide (Paperback)
The Filming of the Douglas Adams Classic (book)
Interviews with The Cast and Director
Watch our interviews with the cast and director of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and find out what they think of other DVDs and books:
This is such a funny movie. The actors do a wonderful job of bringing the book to life.Published 1 day ago by Julie A. Laster
As expected. Now my boyfriend understands the joke behind the #42. *sigh of relief.Published 5 days ago by Michelle
I love this movie. Why couldn't they keep it going and make the other stories movies?Published 6 days ago by Erin
A preface, I have read all the books 8 times +/-, have the radio program on CDs and the TV series on DVDs, so am a huge fan of Douglas Adams. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Dwight D. Stanford Md
Having read the "trilogy" several times, I've long been a fan and looked forward to the movie . I was not disappointed. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Wizard
They attempted to cram 5 books worth of entertainment into one movie. It would be hard to follow for anyone that had not read the books. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Matthew Poyzer