2005 Certificate: pg

Synopsis

Having amused and bamboozled readers across the universe, Douglas Adams' cult sci-fi tome finally makes it to the big screen. And in director Garth Jennings' hands, the tale of Arthur Dent's sci-fi search for the meaning of life, the universe and everything is a trip worth taking. The satirical thrust of the story stays true to Adams' spirit: a wry dig at man's omnipotent stupidity that doesn't miss a chance to stick the knife in and tells you all you need to know about paranoid androids, two-headed galactic egomaniacs and Babel fish. Naturally, it all adds up to 42.

Director

  • Garth Jennings

Cast

  • Martin Freeman

  • Sam Rockwell

  • Zooey Deschanel

  • Mos Def

  • Bill Nighy

  • Anna Chancellor

  • John Malkovich

Review

It started out as 1978 radio series made up by Douglas Adams as he went along. Then it manifested itself as a slew of novels. Next up, it took the form of a BBC TV series in the early eighties.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - the eccentrically English sci-fi comedy - now makes it to the big screen thanks to first-time filmmakers Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith.

That's not really what Adams' international legion of fans want to hear. Their possessiveness regarding the story of the lone survivors of Earth's demolition is legendary.

It didn't help that Adams died of a heart attack aged 49 in 2001 leaving his revered work in the hands of couple of geezers better known for their videos for Blur and REM.

But fear not, the feature version of the intergalactic saga - while far from perfect - is pretty fine most of the time and occasionally brilliantly inspired.

Wisely ignoring Adams' suggestion that Hugh Grant take the role, Jennings cast Martin Freeman - lovelorn drone of TV's The Office - to play hapless Arthur Dent.

He sets off with best buddy (and, unbeknown to him, friendly alien) Ford Prefect (Mos Def) on an interplanetary trip with the HHGG (voiced by a lugubrious Stephen Fry) for guidance.

Along for the ride is Arthur's love interest Trillian (Deschanel) and a splendidly manic Sam Rockwell as schizophrenic galactic president Zaphod Beeblebrox.

It actually helps if you go into this with total ignorance of HHGG because any preconceptions about how it might turn out are bound to compromise your enjoyment.

Suffice to say, that the script - actually penned by Adams and Austin Powers director Jay Roach - is everything you'd expect from one of Britain's greatest humourists.

On a technical side, the sfx are well up there - especially a mind-blowing tour of the Planet Factory by engineer Slartibartfast (Nighy) and John Malkovich's splendid Humma Kavula, half-man, half-metal spider.

Yes, it's a trip worth taking. Even without the benefit of being zapped by the Point-of-View gun, this Hitchhiker's guide gets the thumbs up.