The first question is: Did you read the books? If the answer is yes, you are going to like this movie, but have a few problems with it. If the answer is no, a) you should and b) you are in for one of the most odd experiences of your life when you see this film.
…one has to accept that this film could not have been completed on the scale it was without American money behind it
The book to which I am refering is the now classic The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The quirky science fiction comedy novel has become a cult classic that has erupted into the world in a number of forms, including BBC radio shows, a television show and now a feature film. The most notable difference here though, is that this film was made with the heavy influence of (and an eye towards) the American film machine. Along with that comes all of the baggage of the difference between American and British humor and mentalities, but also a whole lot of money. So no matter how you look at this film, one has to accept that this film could not have been completed on the scale it was without American money behind it.
Perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves. As you read and scratch your evolved ape head and say “What the fuck is he talking about now?”. The Guide is the tale of one Arthur Dent, an ordinary english gent, who in a strange series of events is saved from the Earth, just before it is destroyed to make way for an interstellar hyperspace highway. What was that? Oh yes. Its that sort of film. Dent, who is played by Martin Freeman, soon finds out that his good friend Ford Prefect, played by the always enjoyable Mos Def, is actually an alien, and a writer for an encyclopedic guide for hitchhikers making their way across the galaxy (hence the title. You’re starting to get the hang of this now, right?) So with the Earth destroyed the pair begin to adventure off across space, falling into the lap of the fugitive president of the galaxy, played by Sam Rockwell, and the girl that Arthur let get away, Trillian played by the heartstoppingly ordinary/beautiful Zooey Deschanel. The motley group, with the addition of a depressed android, voiced by Alan Rickman, make their way through a series of tests and adventures, which blend into one another seamlessly, and never feel contrived.
…there will be moments when the film rubs them the wrong way, changing characters, and adding events that “never really happened”
That said, how does it work? Remarkably well actually. The original script was written by Adams himself before he passed away, and was then tweaked by a second writer, but the fact remains that the film retains the original spirit of the texts, if not the exact order of events. For purists, there will be moments when the film rubs them the wrong way, changing characters, and adding events that “never really happened”, but lets face it, this is all fiction, and outlandish fiction at that. If we are going to accept that a race of bureacratic aliens blows up earth without a second glance, that dolphins leave just before the end, by rising into the sky while singing broadway tunes, and that mice are actually interdimensional beings supervising a planetary experiement, we can perhaps accept that Ford is an alien pretending to be American, and not an alien pretending to be British.
I’ve given away too much already. If you like British humor(humour?), and enjoy a good bit of absurdity, even if it is watered down for the American, then the Guide is a must see film. Imagine Monty Python meets Star Wars. Sort of.
Just remember, whatever you do… DON’T PANIC