Rated: PG Reviewed by: Frank Release date: April 29, 2005 Released by: Touchstone Pictures
Based on Douglas Adams' best selling novel, at the opening of the film Martin Freeman's Arthur Dent is having a bad day. He is about to have an extraordinary trip across the universe in his PJ's but first his house is about to be bulldozed as he listens to a recording of Perry Como sing "Magic Moments." He discovers his best friend is an alien and that the Earth is about to be destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass.
He hitches a ride on a passing spacecraft and learns all is not as it seems. In the scheme of things he learns that people are only the 3rd most intelligent creatures on the planet as he watches the Earth explode like the planet Alderaan in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.
But when Trillian played by Zooey Deschanel says "this is weird," she summarizes the content of of this off-beat spring movie. We find one main character has two heads, one inside the other, because he is President of the Galaxy Sam Rockwell's Zaphod Beeblebrox only needs part of his brain.
If there is a thread of a story it deals with questions like, "what is the meaning of life?" What is most important? And as two aliens who are animals on Earth ask the monster computer for an answer they are told it will come in 7.5 million years. At that point the answer is simply numerical and without meaning. So the computer is asked, "what is the ultimate question?" That takes 10 million years for an answer. The characters explore un-probability and note a square wheel in an advanced society. We learn that the characters carry a handkerchief, could it be because the Universe was created from a runny nose?
The sets and photography are interesting and unique. Even Humma Kavula (John Malkovich) is found to be as remarkable as the creative planets. He walks on a number of metal legs which extend to keep his head at the same height. We learn of an un-thinking cap and that the president's brain is fed with lemon juice. A Stargate style circle sends the characters back to the giant computer and they meet Slartibartfast (Bill Nighy) who we learn is the architect of the original Earth. The galactic housewives device which reverses and allows one to understand another's position helps to raise the question, "would you rather be happy or right?"
With all of the uniqueness in the story which includes Marvin the robot (who reminds us of a Looney Tunes character) and many others who could be characters in an episode of Star Wars, Hitchhiker's is an acquired taste, and this script which has a theme of "Don't Panic," doesn't offer motivation to see or learn anymore. For one I'm not willing to work at it until I acquire a taste.
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