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May 05, 2005



I say this as a total fanboy who read the Hitchhiker's ect. at least 5 times, I wouldn't have minded any amount of changes if the movie was actually good. But they totally missed the point, mood, and joke. Trying to install a sense of wonder to the introduction of Marvin and giving Arthur a motivation that runs completely contrary to his real character, that dire music...

Even that scene in the vogon planet lacks any drama - they go fill out three forms, Trillian gets released. Gosh, the excitement. I guess at the end of the day, their beurocracy works.


David Van Domelen

I'll dissent here. Given that the plot of this movie seems to be Arthur's journey from kneebiter to, well, less of a kneebiter, the additions all make sense. Sure, there's the business about the Ultimate Question and so forth, but that was never really a plot so much as an excuse to get the cast moving around and doing interesting and amusing things.

Malkovich scene? Arthur's crisis point. Vogsphere sequence? Arthur's act three climax.

Arthur is the protagonist, the plot is his bildungsroman. Granted, I expect I'm in the majority in being into HHGTTG for the details, not the plot (such as it is), but I don't begrudge the decision to focus on a plot instead. Whether it worked will be borne out in the second week box office, I expect.


I'd say that the ease with which a story known for its witty digressions can be mapped onto the drearily conventional character-development-centered three-act structure is exactly what's wrong with the new Hitchhiker's Guide. The Malkovich scene may indeed be Arthur's crisis point, but it's an invented crisis, hamfistedly spelled out, in a story arc that was never supposed to be about a single character's development in the first place. But, like Isaac, I might not mind that if it had been even the slightest bit amusing.

Isaac, you've got them dead to rights - how satirically inefficient can this bureaucracy be if the heroes can butt in line, fill out three forms, and get them processed in the time it takes to dip Trillian into a big vat? (Go, Old Labour!) And on the other hand, if the Vogons are still supposed to be chasing Beeblebrox around after the Vogsphere sequence, shouldn't the heroes' departure be a little more difficult? The episode reads like a bad Death Star riff that forgets to present any serious challenge to the characters.

I didn't get into the music at all, but beyond the old theme it was a typically cloying Hollywood score, trying to program our reactions to the leaden romantic triangle and failing horribly. Dear lord. If it hadn't been for Simon Jones, Bill Nighy, and good old Bernie Leadon this would have been completely unwatchable, wouldn't it?

Okay, and the Sock Monkey-esque yarn puppet scene.


Glad to hear that someone else got that "Journey of the Sorceror" frisson (the fact that you didn't know the source means you haven't read the volume of Original Hitchhiker Radio Scripts; I recommend them -Adams' commentary is a hoot). Although I had a good time at the movie, I'm sympathetic to all of your arguments except for the religious right bit at the end. The Babel Fish theology was removed, but there was enough repetition of "ape-descended" and "Oolon Coluphid" to irk the Christian Movie Police. Also, Alan Rickman grew on me. I thought the Hava Nagila bit might well have been written by Adams, as it had the kind of dark nihilstic tone of his last couple of novels. Doubt that he was responsible for the standard Hollywood sexism, though (Where'd Trillian's two PhD's and general resourcefulness go? How did Jean Loring become the Galactic Vice President?).

Is there any way that a piece as digressive and leisurely as HHGG could have worked as a 100-minute movie?


Personally, I thought there was just enough Oolon Coluphid to convince diehard Adams fans and geeks in general that the movie was cocking a saucy smirk at the Christian Movie Police without actually doing enough to provoke them - but this is Hollywood in general, always favoring the superficial sneers (and thereby restocking the religious right's persecution fantasies) over the serious challenges.

Maybe a more purist HHGTTG wouldn't have worked any better, but it could hardly have done worse, right? And I suspect it would have done quite a bit better: from Spider-Man to Lord of the Rings, the most faithful adaptations have raked in billions while the stuff that's embarrassed by its source material dwells on the joke lists with Catwoman and Daredevil. This movie tried to have it both ways, as a big-budget sci-fi blockbuster and as Adams's comedy, and it didn't entirely satisfy either. That isn't to say a different movie couldn't have done both, but this one didn't.

Random vent: the opening dolphin musical number played like a Monty Python sketch by somebody who doesn't really get Monty Python, didn't it?

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