LowComDom Performances Presents
Film Review - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The
Douglas Adams is probably the most influential writer of my life. He wrote for the Monty Python folks, was a story editor on Doctor Who, and created The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy. I discovered Python in 1977, Doctor Who in 1979, and Hitchhikers in 1980. Indeed, it was Hitchhikers that steered my early interest in radio away from being a DJ, to radio drama which I did for three of my four years at the University.
Having read the first Hitchhikers book, I began proselytizing it on campus to whoever would pay attention. This was a very important book, and several people I handed it to started carrying towels everywhere.
I'm a hard-core Hitchhikers fan. I have every book autographed, I have all of the radios series on CD, and the TV show on VHS. The essay about towels hangs in my office. So it pains me to say that the Hitchhikers movie is going to fail. The fans will accept it, but no one who hasn't been exposed to Hitchhikers in its other incarnations will not like this movie.
The radio dramas and the books were wonderfully verbose. Although the TV show didn't have quite as much time to tell the story, it did have more time than this film. Since the first book wouldn't really fit into a 110 minute film, the story had to be massaged. Adams struggled with it for years, trying to fit a non-cinematic book into a cinematic space. He died before that happened. A new writer was given the task, and apparently decided to change quite a lot.
I say apparently because there are conflicting stories about exactly who wrote this screenplay. Some say Adams wrote most of it including the sweeping changes, others say that is not true. Either way we have a different story that has an ending. The books, and the radio dramas really never did. This was the continuing saga of Arthur Dent. As long as he is alive, the story isn't over.
These sweeping changes are not going to be noticed by the person who has never been exposed to the Guide before. But they will be confused by what was left out. Ford Prefect continues to tell Arthur that he needs to have his towel, but he never says why. As I mentioned, the reason why is hanging in my office, it's that important. Zaphod's motivation is not fully explained. In the radio drama, we know he is working with Zarniwoop to find the person who is running the galaxy. Zarniwoop isn't even mentioned in the film. Finally, why is this movie called, The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy when we aren't exposed to Megadodo Publications, the publisher of the Guide? These are all key pieces which are missing, and leaves new folks confused.
Finally there is one more thing that's missing. This film just isn't that funny. The radio dramas, the book, and the TV show all had great laughs. When I laughed at this movie, I realized it was because I filled in missing pieces that made it funny. The person I saw the film with did not laugh at all. She had no idea why any of it was funny. When the film was over, I ask her if she understood any of it. The answer was no.
Stem to Stern this is a film for hitchhikers fans, and no one else. If you want to get the Guide full force, read the book.
Directed by Garth Jennings
Released in 2005
MPAA Rating: PG
Reviewed by Mongo