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 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
 Critic's Rating
   [B]
 Date Posted
   20th June, 2005
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Cast: Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Mos Def
Director: Garth Jennings

You don't necessarily need to have read Douglas Adam's seminal 'Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy' to know, and in some indescribable way also feel, that the movie based on the cult classic gets it mostly right. It's not the inexplicable humour or the stupendous amounts of whacked out situations that work, it's just that at the end of the film you feel you know why the book has inspired such a mass following and why everyone thinks its so damned good.

Sticking to its quintessential British roots, Hitchhiker begins somewhere in the UK where everyman Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) experiences the start of a very bad day following the demolition of his house to make way for a freeway. He has little reason or time to lament though when he learns in quick succession that his friend Ford Perfect (Mos Def) is actually an alien from another planet and Earth itself is scheduled for a fate similar to his abode to make way for a 'hyperspace express route'. With the help of the rather well informed Ford, well versed with the contents of the aforementioned guide, the two are able to safely distance themselves from the destruction as stowaways on board a 'Vogon' alien ship. This sets into motion a relentless interplanetary pursuit, where the guide proves to be an invaluable source of information for everything except the answer to the ultimate question. What is that ultimate question? It doesn't matter because the movie clearly has no clue, or does it?

While Freeman and Def retain their positions front and centre of the stage, the star performer here is clearly Sam Rockwell as Zaphod, the president of the galaxy played here as a wild concoction of overdosed rock superstar meets overzealous cowboy. So much of what happens during the journey abroad Zaphod's ship is nothing but uncultivated banter and zany interplay amongst the characters that it becomes easy to forget (and forgive) the absence of coherence. Credit the filmmakers then for never letting a dull moment enter the proceedings and being able to cover as much ground as they do everything is found here in various bits be it a burlesque of life, love or even politics. While some bits are instant comedy classics; John Malkovich's turn as religions leader Humma Kavula, Marvin the androids self deprecating viewpoint and doors that sigh, the interceding bits exist either as adherence to covering a checklist of contents from the book or to please the legion of fans with pointless trivia rendering the film somewhat episodically stilted.

Highly unusual and almost defying rational dissection, the sheer wit and clever cheeriness of what is seen and even heard (like the dolphin song during the opening credits) is infectious and keeps you glued. And even though some questions are never answered, there is a deep lesson to be found at the end of the viewing. When dolphins speak, please take note. - Faizan Rashid

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