Before I go into this little review of this movie, let me start by saying that I had never read the book and knew very little about the content except that it was scifi with a very British comedic approach. With all respect to Britons – I don’t usually get your humour and I think it’s safe to say that most non-Britons don’t. Except maybe Australians & New Zealanders. The only British comedy I really love are Mr. Bean, Mind Your Language & Coupling. So I was wondering how would I like the movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy? It’s ok I guess!
Many years ago, I remember my cousins from Scotland who used to rave about the book on which this movie is based upon and them not really being Scifi fans, I wanted to know what the fuss was all about but never did read the book. All I knew about the storyline was that it featured space travel, bunch of aliens and the answer to the Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, which we all know is 42! I wasn’t sure that I’d like this movie and on watching it (late at night at around 1am) I found that it’s not meant to be taken seriously and it’ll probably grow on me and become one of my all time favs after a few repeats.
Stephen Fry plays the role of the narrator for us and at the start of the movie states that the second most intelligent species on our planet, the dolphins, who have been trying to communicate to mankind (the 3rd most intelligent species) about the impending destruction of Earth. We humans have misinterpreted their communications to be cute tricks and as the dolphins fly out (huh?) their final message is “So long & thanks for all the fish”! We have Arthur Dent whose house is about to be demolished for a bypass but his best friend Ford takes him away to drink a few pints, says the world is about to end. Ford saves himself & Arthur as the Earth, which was scheduled to be demolished by a Vogon planetary demolishing fleet appears, surrounds the Earth and announces Earth’s impending demise so they can build a hyperspace expressway. They are discovered hitching a ride on the ship and are punished by being forced to listen to Vogon poerty – which is the 3rd worst in the universe!
By now the ugly & ridiculously comic appearance of the Vogons & the British humour had almost made me loose interest but I persisted. The duo get jettisoned into the vacuum of space, and get picked up by another ship, piloted by Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), Marvin the Paranoid Android (voiced by Alan Rickman) and Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), an earth girl who had befriended Arthur at a party a few nights ago. Ford (Mos Def) is Zaphod’s “semi-half brother” (whatever the fuck that means) and he along with an overwhelmed Arthur are along for the ride to the planet Magrathea where Zaphod believes he can discover the Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything to match with the answer “42” given by the supercomputer Deep Thought (voiced by Helen Mirren). However on another planet, a rival of Zaphod takes one of his two heads hostage and demands they bring him the Point-of-view gun created by Deep Thought, which allows the target to understand the shooter’s point of view.
As they go to retrieve this device, the group is also chased by the Vogons & led by Galactic Vice-President Questular Rontok (Anna Chancellor) and they capture Trillian. The others travel to rescue her from the Vogon home world bureaucracy, facing long lines and frustrating form processing. Before being rescued, Trillian is outraged to learn that Zaphod signed the authorization for the destruction of Earth thinking it was a request for an autograph. They reach Deep Thought through means of a portal and find from it that it had designed another supercomputer to do so – Earth. Meanwhile Arthur & Marvin who couldn’t go through the portal meet up with a Magrathean called Slartibartfast (Bill Nighy), who takes Arthur through the construction floor and shows him the creation of Earth mark II. Arthur goes to a remake of his house where the others – Trillian, Zaphod & Ford are enjoying a huge feast served to them by two mice. But the mice are actually two highly advanced beings who built Deep Thought and want to cut out Arthur’s brain as he is one of the last original humans alive.
Arthur kills the mice at the last moment by bludgeoning them with a teapot. Outside the Vogons surround the house and a shoot out takes place and Marvin is shot through the head but not fatally. As he used the Point Of View weapon on the Vogons they become depressed and unable to fight. As the Vogons are taken away and Questular rejoins with Zaphod, Arthur chooses the opportunity to explore the galaxy with Trillian and lets Slartibartfast finalize the new Earth without him. So the now group of friends head off to a restaurant for breakfast and then onto new adventures.
While I found some of the stuff funny, like the spaceship changing to many odd & random things as it takes off and Sam Rockwell with his hilarious two heads (one below the other and interchangeable) and some of the dialogue is also funny, it really is an acquired taste. Very British and some of their humour is only funny to them! But I still liked the movie and with a 2nd & 3rd watch might come to adore it. 7 out of 10!