Wednesday 26th January 2022

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (PG)
Directed by: Garth Jennings
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

Most people probably know the story of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by now. First conceived by Douglas Adams while lying in a field in Europe one night, Adams went on to write an innovative radio series, a trilogy of novels (in five parts) and a TV series based upon his idea of a timid Englishman named Arthur Dent who is forced to leave Earth one morning as the planet is demolished to make way for an interstellar bypass.

There's a frood who really knows where his towel is
There's a frood who really knows where his towel is

Just four years after Adams' death, his idea has been adapted yet again, this time into a feature film with an impressive and varied cast who have come together to create a strangely British atmosphere.

Martin Freeman (Tim from The Office) stars as dressing-gown-clad Arthur Dent, opposite rapper Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, Bill Nighy, John Malkovich and the inimitable Stephen Fry as the voice of the Guide.

Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how good a cast is if the script isn't up to much and the director is a first-time chancer from the world of music videos. The storyline has been altered fairly radically from Adams' well-loved books, and much more emphasis has been placed on the relationship between Arthur and Trillian (Zooey Deschanel). Of course, altering the story was inevitable and probably necessary to make a film at all, but the plot they have finished up with here seems to have been changed unnecessarily in many places and basically isn't very good.

The humour in the film is distinctly British and definitely very funny at times, but much of the mirth from the books and radio series hasn't translated successfully onto film. In fact, without Adams' hefty legacy to lean on, this film would not stand up at all. From the ill-advised opening musical number onwards, this probably isn't how this film should have been approached at all, and certainly not how I'd have gone about making it. Indeed, it makes you wonder if this is how Douglas Adams himself wanted the film to turn out, seeing as the project didn't get the green light until after he died, despite being in development for over 20 years and Adams writing three separate drafts.

Having said all that, I don't really want to discourage anyone from seeing this film, because I imagine it will have a different impact on everyone who sees it. Instead, I would rather encourage people to read Adams' five-part trilogy which, unlike this film, is nothing short of a masterpiece.

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Length: 110 minutes
Certificate: PG
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 28th April 2005

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