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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (PG)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making Of Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy; Additional Guide Entry; Deleted Scenes; Really Deleted Scenes; Sing A Long; Audio Commentaries; Set Top Games Marvins Hangman; Don't Crash Making Of

THE first thing to say about the big screen version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is that fans of Douglas Adams' much-loved play ought not to panic - everything is ok.

The second thing is that it's a film that can be enjoyed by pretty much everyone, so long as they give in to the silliness and simply embrace the fun.

Garth Jennings' gloriously bizarre movie stays pretty faithful to the Adams' story, despite throwing in a romance and the odd new character.

Yet while the film contains plenty of nods to the radio series and its subsequent TV incarnation (including cameos from several Adams' family members and one of the cast members of the original radio series), it never alienates the newcomers, thereby making it capable of appealing to a new army of fans.

What's more, it celebrates its limitations rather than trying to disguise them, mixing in some pretty amazing special effects with others that seem lifted straight out of the BBC archives (from Dr Who and its ilk).

And it has a cast to die for, combining some true stalwarts of British cinema (Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy, etc) with the odd charismatic American (Mos Def and Sam Rockwell).

Essentially, though, this is a very British affair - and rightly so! The deadpan humour and sarcastic wit is delivered as only the Brits know how.

For anyone who doesn't know, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the story of Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), an everyday hero, whose home is about to be bulldozed to make way for a by-pass.

What Arthur doesn't realise, however, is that the loss of his home is merely the tip of the iceberg, given that the world itself is about to be bulldozed to make way for a cosmic super-highway!

Fortunately, his best friend, Ford Prefect (Def), reveals himself to be an alien contributor to the best-selling intergalactic book, The Hitchhiker's Guide, and whisks him off on an insane adventure that might just save the day.

Along the way, Arthur and Ford team up with the wildly eccentric Zaphod Beeblebrox (Rockwell), the two-headed, three-armed president of the universe, his girlfriend, Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), and a manically-depressed super-robot named Marvin (voiced by the ever-excellent Alan Rickman).

And they must run the gauntlet of some of the oddest creatures the universe can throw at them, including the Vogons, who use poetry as a form of torture, and two seemingly innocuous white mice, who may just hold the key to the whole extraordinary adventure!

If you've never heard of the Hitchhiker's Guide before, then the synopsis is bound to sound insane but much of the fun lies in the stupidity on show, while also provoking some profound questions about the nature of reality.

Providing various clues along the way, of course, is the voice of the narrator, or The Guide (Stephen Fry), whose frequent insights into the universe unfold using a series of 2D animations.

There are moments, of course, when the film doesn't quite come off and the humour fails to generate the necessary laughs, but Jennings and his superb cast always have something more to give and the film never rests on its laurels.

Several moments are inspired, including a sequence in which the cast are transformed into knitted dolls, and another in which a planet punishes them for having ideas.

And performance-wise, the film is spot-on, with Freeman, Def and Rickman the pick of the bunch.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy won't, of course, be to everyone's taste, but those who get what it has to offer should have a riot.

It's a weird but frequently wonderful experience that is well worth throwing in your own towel to enjoy!

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