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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.52%
Worth A Look34.24%
Just Average: 25.54%
Pretty Crappy: 12.5%
Sucks: 21.2%

13 reviews, 106 user ratings

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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The
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by Robert Flaxman

"So long and not much thanks for the movie."
3 stars

One important thing to remember about movies based on books is this: the movie is never going to be the same as its source material, no matter how much we might desire. The average screenplay is between 90 and 120 pages of dialogue and the filmic equivalent of stage directions, while pretty much any novel you’d care to name is significantly longer. Douglas Adams understood this, which is why his script for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy bears surprisingly little resemblance to the book on which it is based. Even with that consideration, however, it must be said: the film just can’t measure up to its source.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy hardly seems like an easy book to adapt. Its plot isn’t terribly complicated and much of its humor comes from prose that can’t be easily translated into visuals. With those warning signs in mind, there was no way anyone but Adams could have written the script. There were rumblings of a film version years ago that seemed to have been snuffed by Adams’ untimely death in 2001; however, it turned out that he had already completed a draft of the script that, with only minor tweaks, could be filmed.

Since the author himself was doing the adapting, it seems wrong to complain about the differences between the book and the film – and in some ways the resemblance between them is really only a passing one – unless those differences have problems other than the fact that they make the film different from the book. Well, they do.

One thing the Hitchhiker’s Guide novels did was toy with convention. There were often sharp turns in the text that served as sources of humor, and rarely if ever could the plot be called straightforward. The movie, in contrast, is little else. In some ways this is understandable due to the book’s seeming resistance to adaptation, but if the film version were going to be this typical, the story should never have left the page.

The basic story is the same: the Earth is demolished thanks to the Vogons, a horrible, bureaucratic alien race, but Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) escapes thanks to his friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def), who is actually from another planet. The two hook up with Ford’s friend Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) and Trillian, a.k.a. Tricia McMillan (Zooey Deschanel), who Arthur met at a party once. Together, they end up involved in a quest to discover the ultimate answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything.

There’s plenty of new stuff here, though. Trillian is at one point kidnapped by the Vogons, and Zaphod drops in on a religious leader (John Malkovich) he defeated for the title of President of the Galaxy. The romantic tension between Arthur and Trillian, virtually nonexistent in the book, is played to a Hollywood level.

These additions and changes aren’t bad per se, but they’re not especially good. Though Trillian is a better and more interesting character in the film than she was in the book (one of the few improvements to be found, and only because her character in the book doesn’t really get a substantial amount to do until the third installment), succumbing to the film necessity of creating a relationship where there was none before is disappointingly rote where Adams is concerned.

More depressing for fans of the book is the way in which the film pulls entire scenes directly from the text, then surrounds them with newer scenes that really can’t hold a candle. It turns the whole thing into a watered-down version of Adams’ humor, and lacks the overall tone that made the book so special. It’s certainly not all bad, but even at its best, it’s never great.

There is of course the argument that a movie should not be judged based on how it relates to its source material. I would agree with that except for the fact that the film is relatively vague on details (sort of necessary considering how many there were in the book), which means that the obvious audience – and possibly the only real audience – for the movie is people who were fans of the book in the first place. But it’s hard to imagine that people who loved the book would tolerate so many changes, even if Adams did make them himself, and they’re right not to. Even the changes that work well just aren’t that inspired.

It’s well-made and has some genuinely nice moments – some of which are even its own and not pulled wholesale from the book’s text – but The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is ultimately disappointing. The actors are well-cast but don’t have all that much to work with – Adams’ humor is so dry it really works better in print. It’s nice to see that the series can work to some degree on the big screen, but in the end Adams’ legacy would probably have been better-served without it.

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originally posted: 06/09/05 17:13:29
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User Comments

12/24/15 brian If you have no expectations, it's nice lightweight fun. 4 stars
10/08/14 me worth a look 4 stars
7/27/12 Silkworm Dreadful rubbish - Just ask revolving Douglas !! 1 stars
2/14/12 Ron Larson Enjoyable, good cast 4 stars
5/14/11 Chipzsz First time i couldn't understand s**it, after reading the book is excellent, specially Marv 5 stars
6/14/10 LINDA DOWDY Hard to follow story line...was there a story line? 2 stars
6/08/10 Harvey Scott Fun but see the English version first. 3 stars
1/26/09 Shaun Wallner Very Interesting 4 stars
9/07/08 Samantha Pruitt did a good job re-telling the book, the effects were great! 4 stars
12/16/07 Jason The TV show sucked, this was only marginally better. 3 stars
5/19/07 fools♫gold Damn funny at times and even thoughtful. Seaver knows... 4 stars
4/17/07 Stevo UK Watching Harry Potter suck his cock is more tolerable than this. 1 stars
2/20/07 Beau literally one of the worst overrated movies i have ever seen, utterly pointless crap 1 stars
1/05/07 Don't see the movie, read the book please please please read the excellent book and don't judge it by this crap 1 stars
1/01/07 Jamie I actually thought that is was a decent movie, ya'll need to shutup, if you don't like it.. 5 stars
11/13/06 Matt Read the book, then dont waste ur time on the movie 2 stars
10/09/06 Diana Starts out great, slowly gets worse, the end is terrible and sugary (PS- READ THE BOOK) 3 stars
9/01/06 Chad Thomas Okay... not great! 3 stars
6/04/06 Pete Smith Utter rubbish. Watch the BBC TV version instead. 1 stars
5/21/06 millersxing Sci-fi silliness. I'm no more likely to read the book than before. 3 stars
5/18/06 drydock54321 kind of dull 2 stars
3/29/06 alley brauwnstine 5 stars
3/12/06 Roderick Cromar Very disappointing. A wasted opportunity. Poor value. 2 stars
2/11/06 adamathwaxman you all are styupid. this is the best film in years.pick yourself with a sharp object. 4 stars
1/23/06 Michael Shaw If anyone thinks this movie was worth watcvhing they should get their head examined 1 stars
1/19/06 Mike Pulido Boy this movie sucked! 1 stars
1/15/06 Perry Mason nice opening, down hill from there. 2 stars
12/14/05 deadfishrman maybe I just need to watch it again for 1 more star 3 stars
12/02/05 Jennifer S. Martin Freeman is pretty good in this, but Zooey Deschanel is her usual annoying self. 3 stars
11/12/05 cypress wasn't too impressed, expected more from this one 2 stars
10/27/05 East Asian Piss Fairly Good 4 stars
10/25/05 daveyt not worthy of the title... absolutely butchered 2 stars
10/09/05 Anus Adams is rolling in his grave. 1 stars
10/06/05 Chris Knight I was open mouthed it was so dreadful 1 stars
10/02/05 CaDizzle Don't judge the book by this movie, book is millions of times better 2 stars
9/26/05 rafi I actually liked it alot , fun movie! 5 stars
9/20/05 Vaughan What a disappointment, they ruined the jokes! 2 stars
9/18/05 Jonathon Holmes dogshit 1 stars
9/14/05 Tom Burns Not a great movie, but the scenery is pretty cool. 3 stars
9/05/05 chrissy b absolute rubbish - dire remake - why bother 1 stars
8/12/05 zaw is this movie based on a piece of crap book or what? 1 stars
8/09/05 Glagg Just not interesting or funny enough, gives book an undeserved bad rep. 2 stars
8/05/05 Zack DON'T PANIC! 5 stars
8/04/05 Kathy terPlugg Wasting away again in MAGRATHEAville 2 stars
7/22/05 Seen the movie, TOTALLY regretted it The movie was a REMAKE of Penis Spaceship movie of the 1960'70s 1 stars
7/09/05 Rebecca It implies the book itself is a piece of shit. It isn't. 3 stars
6/28/05 Joe Pesci The film is crap. BUT READ THE BOOK - ITS AMAZINGLY GREAT. 1 stars
6/23/05 Eric Rollins The mini-series is so superior, skip this mess 2 stars
6/19/05 Sean Lane Awesome alternative to the regular garbage derivations. Didn't read the book. 4 stars
6/11/05 Krisan Graves what did i just watch? 3 stars
6/10/05 Captain Craig The only move I ever walked out on! A waist of money all around. dont bother! 1 stars
6/08/05 elpintogrande ADAMS ROLLING IN HIS GRAVE 1 stars
6/04/05 Ubu the Ripper Failed Disney attempt to cash in on pre-Star Wars hype. A true waste of film and my $10. 1 stars
6/04/05 Denise Gannon i loved the opening theme, but too much pointless chatting amongst charactors. 3 stars
6/04/05 Hack-SAW Don't know what to say about this... 3 stars
5/27/05 chris. this is what fans of the book like myself have been waiting for????? 3 stars
5/22/05 Green Gremlin Not as good as the classic BBC series, but still fun to watch 4 stars
5/21/05 Cham Book was pretty funny, but this is just plain bad. 1 stars
5/21/05 Tom Biegel Boring 2 stars
5/16/05 ad good for kids 3 stars
5/16/05 Hannah INSANITY!!! Don't see it in theaters...unless you are drunk! 1 stars
5/14/05 Bluto I wanted to like it so much, good visuals, thats about it 3 stars
5/13/05 MF A fun, if not wierd, movie that pales in compraison to the books. 3 stars
5/12/05 mwr truly awful, awkward and ugly - I fell asleep 1 stars
5/11/05 Jeff Baugh Read the books, seen the TV series, and heard the radio show. My rating? *****/***** 5/5 4 stars
5/11/05 Tyrantis The most entertaining film I've seen this year. 5 stars
5/11/05 maxomai Not the book. Who cares? Loved it. 5 stars
5/10/05 X worth the line wait 5 stars
5/10/05 nikki definately worth a look 5 stars
5/08/05 Snickerdoodle Weird in a good way, and very imaginative 4 stars
5/08/05 zeitgeist WTF is with the love story sub-plot? It ruined it. Stick to the book, kids 3 stars
5/07/05 Harry Knowles WORST. MOVIE. EVER. (ok, maybe not - battlefield earth holds that spot) 1 stars
5/06/05 Sir Spam-a-lot If only they had this kinda budget w/ the 1981 BBC Miniseries... 3 stars
5/06/05 KingNeutron Worst. Zaphod. EVAR. 2 stars
5/05/05 Christy Schultz Well, I have never read the book, but it was funny in some places, very stupid in others 2 stars
5/04/05 Ethan Acres Screenplay obviously written by Vogons 2 stars
5/04/05 ZF better than expected, very funny, great production design 4 stars
5/04/05 marya appalling, tripe, awful, unwarranted, Dear God, don't let them make a sequel! 1 stars
5/04/05 Integral Retarded, aimless, pointless, dull, WANT MY MONEY BACK!!! 1 stars
5/04/05 tmcmistress Lowtax: THINK. Idea-smiting shovels. on Vogon. Makes perfect sense. Well-done movie. 4 stars
5/03/05 Whatevr cool 5 stars
5/03/05 Mike Prentice Walked out after 40 minutes AND got my money back 1 stars
5/03/05 Aaron Smith Awful 1 stars
5/03/05 elpintogrande A pathetic attempt at forced humour. 1 stars
5/03/05 Tom Felt way more depressed than Marvin could ever be 1 stars
5/02/05 Lowtax So what was all that shovel face slapping time wasting crap about? 1 stars
5/02/05 Tommy It doesn't do justice to the book or to the fans. 1 stars
5/02/05 jcjs loved it 5 stars
5/02/05 Elizabeth S Not very amusing; only enjoyed Rickman's excellent voice work. 2 stars
5/01/05 bullit16 What was laugh-out-loud funny in the book, just wasn't on the screen 3 stars
5/01/05 Teri SILLY 3 stars
5/01/05 Rageim Support the movie ,Maybe get better in next movie. 4 stars
5/01/05 Richard Sucked 1 stars
5/01/05 Dorothy Malm not bad but movies are rarely as good as the book 4 stars
5/01/05 Joe Buss Pretty funny 4 stars
4/30/05 herrinfamily none 3 stars
4/30/05 John Bale Strong supporting cast and Jim Hanson's monsters help this space satire 4 stars
4/30/05 Darren Shea Good, but not great. Likely to be a letdown if you've memorized the books,or other versions 4 stars
4/30/05 The Grinch Pretty damned good for 2 hours...I don't think Joe Moviegoer could've handled 3 hrs.. 4 stars
4/30/05 Titus Better than I feared, not as good as I hoped. Chuckle-worthy, not much more. 3 stars
4/30/05 Mahone Sucks beyond belief. Effects budget can't hide terrible effort. 1 stars
4/30/05 Gray tI could have been better but not much 4 stars
4/29/05 David M Rosonowski Played off elements from the radioplay, TV series and book. Loved it. 5 stars
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  29-Apr-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Sep-2005



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