I came to the Guide with only a basic notion of the themes of Douglas Adams’ famous sci-fi Trilogy in Five Parts, and ultimately I was a little disappointed when I discovered a greater understanding of the books is pretty close to requisite knowledge for the movie. Nevertheless, Guide’s whimsical, sarcastic, and happily understated humor was still very enjoyable.
Visually it’s a breathe of fresh air to witness a science fiction movie that didn’t throw the entire bankroll at heavy-handed CG, but when that’s combined with a plot that reads more like a chapter overview than a page-turner and the entire experience falls just a little short.
The movie follows Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), a hapless and homely Englishman who not only finds out that his home is to be demolished to make way for an expressway bypass, but that his planet (yeah, Earth) is to be destroyed to make way for an interstellar freeway. Luckily his friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def) is actually an alien spending time on earth adding to the nearly omniscient font of knowledge known as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The two ‘hitchhike’ and avoid destruction (though I think the rest of us are just S.O.L.).
I won’t soon forget the singing dolphins or the endlessly bureaucratic blobish Vogons, but temper the fun images with an overtly transparent romance and a couple of empty sequences of forced and hollow dialogue and film is just far too flat for my taste. Perhaps this can be appreciated more by a seasoned Adams aficionado, but for the layman it’s doomed to being just another acceptable book to film translation.