Weekend Viewing Roundup – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)review

MSPIFF_PressPassHappy Monday all! It’s going to be quite a busy week for me with three screenings Tuesday – Thursday, starting with Disconnect tomorrow. I’ve got my MSPIFF press pass kit yesterday and all the tickets for the films I’ve mentioned herewell except for Kon-Tiki as it was sold out and the second screening conflicts with another film. I was thinking of going to the Screenwriters Panel but this stupid Wintry weather kept me from going. Seriously, there are icicles forming on my roof as I type this. We seem to be going backwards!! [sigh] In any case, here’s my viewing schedule this week:

  • Disconnect (Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Alexander Skarsgård)
  • Unfinished Song – or Song for Marion (Terrence Stamp, Vanessa Redgrave)
  • Mud (Matthew McConaughey)
  • Oblivion (Tom Cruise)

It’ll take me some time to review them all so this week we’ve got a couple of special guest posts on schedule, so stay tuned! Anyway, here’s my mini review of the one film I managed to see this weekend:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

HitchikerGuideGalaxyPoster

Mere seconds before the Earth is to be demolished by an alien construction crew, journeyman Arthur Dent is swept off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher penning a new edition of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

My hubby and I didn’t originally set out to see this one but it’s one of those movies we’ve been curious about for some time as it’s such a pop-culture phenomenon. Truth be told, I don’t know anything about the story, though a short stop at Wikipedia revealed that it’s a comic sci-fi series created by Douglas Adams, which started out as a BBC comedy radio program in 1978 and later adapted to other formats, including novels, TV series and the 2005 movie. When I saw the cast, Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Bill Nighy, John Malkovich, PLUS Alan Rickman & Helen Mirren‘s voice, I was more than intrigued! It has the vibe of the wacky sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest, one of my fave comedies ever, but I think is still far more enjoyable than this one. Now, it started out very promising, with the hilarious narration about how the dolphins has been trying to warn humans of their impending doom but they’re mistaken for playful tricks, hence all the dolphin shows in Sea World. The song So Long and Thanks for All the Fish that the dolphins sing before they leave earth is such a hoot and fun to watch. Then we meet a hapless Englishman Arthur Dent — Martin Freeman can portray utter bewilderment like no other — who wakes up to all the ruckus outside his home as it’s about to be demolished. As if that wasn’t a bad enough morning, his friend Ford Prefect (hip-hop artist Moss Def) tells him he’s actually an alien and earth is being destroyed in a matter of minutes! Before you know it, Arthur is whisked away by Ford, by hitching a ride to a spaceship (natch!), and they embark on a madly bizarre adventure! HitchikerGuideGalaxyPics I could see how this story would become so popular, not just people who grew up listening to the radio show, as my hubby’s colleagues often reference this movie. Even Apple’s Siri refer to this giant computer Deep Thought’s answer, the number 42, when asked about the meaning of life. There are certainly some amusing parts in this film, the segment with John Malkovich as a seriously outlandish religious leader with mechanical spiders for legs and Sam Rockwell’s flamboyantly over-the-top portrayal of Zaphod Beeblebrox (I guess with a character name like that one can’t exactly underplay it, ahah) are certainly amusing. Overall though, the pacing is just off, it could be because director Garth Jennings’s lack of directorial experience. On top of that, I just didn’t connect with the story as I found myself falling asleep midway through, and didn’t wake up until Bill Nighy‘s Slartibartfast, the planet designer, gave Arthur a tour of the galaxy. Unlike Galaxy Quest where I was caught up in the characters’ journey, this one sort of become tedious over time, I’m sure the radio show/novels are far more interesting. Most of the characters, while amusing at first, just aren’t really that interesting after all, which is a shame considering the talents involved. Freeman basically playing a similar character as Bilbo in terms of being out of his comfort zone, as he’s pretty much dumbfounded and perplexed for most of the movie. I do love Marvin the Paranoid Android, he’s perhaps my favorite character of the movie, largely thanks to Alan Rickman‘s voice! I don’t know how this guy managed to be entertaining just by lending his voice alone, but all the sarcastic quips of the manically-depressed robot are truly the best lines of the movie!

ManicallyDepressedMarvinMarvin: You can blame the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation for making androids with GPP… Arthur: Um… what’s GPP? Marvin: Genuine People Personalities. I’m a personality prototype. You can tell, can’t you…?

Arthur: I think that door just sighed. Marvin: Ghastly, isn’t it? All the doors on this spaceship have been programmed to have a cheery and sunny disposition.

Marvin: Freeze? I’m a robot. I’m not a refrigerator.

So even though I didn’t love this movie, I’m glad I finally saw it so I know when people make references to this story. I probably won’t rewatch the movie but I definitely would rewatch all the hilarious Marvin moments, courtesy of youtube. 3 out of 5 reels


Fun Trivia bit: The movie was first optioned in 1982 by producers Ivan Reitman, Joe Medjuck and Michael C. Gross. Douglas Adams wrote three drafts for them per his contract. During this time, Medjuck and Gross were considering Bill Murray or Dan Aykroyd to play Ford Prefect, but then Aykroyd sent them his idea for Ghostbusters and they did that movie instead. [per IMDb trivia]


Well, that’s my weekend roundup, folks. What did you see this weekend, anything good?

40 thoughts on “Weekend Viewing Roundup – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)review

  1. Great review, which sums up how I felt about the movie. I’m a big fan of the books which I read when I was about 12, I think. I don’t think it quite captures the feel of the books, but then they’re not really the type of story that translate well to cinema, so it’s not surprising you didn’t totally love the movie.

    I seem to recall they changed one of the funniest bits of dialogue in the book to something unfunny in the film, the bit where they’re about to get blasted out of the airlock. Which is odd. It would’ve totally worked on screen. But then that’s the film all over, full of hit and miss directorial, casting, and screenwriting choices.

    Sorry, started to ramble a bit there! But I recommend the books, definitely.

    1. Hello again! Ah, I’ve been waiting for fans of the books/radio show to chime in. Yeah, I think some of the really witty parts just didn’t translate to the movie. I mean, it’s so uneven! What did you think of Marvin? Was he as depressed as Rickman play it? He’s just so hilarious!!

      I think the actors are fine, it’s the execution that’s a problem, so perhaps because the director’s lack of experience? I don’t know.

      1. Ha-ha, yeah, Marvin is totally depressed (and hilarious because of it) in the book. I think Rickman got him right, but then there’s not much Rickman gets wrong.

  2. Mud, Mud, Mud, Mud, Mud!!! So jealous! That’s the big one for me this year. REALLY anxious to hear your thoughts on it!!!! Hope you have a great time at the festival.

    This weekend was slow in terms of movie watching. So much work. I did see To the Wonder (amazing) and the Marx Brothers film Monkey Business (hysterical).

    1. I hope it lives up to your expectations Keith! I actually just saw the trailer last night. Are you super excited for it because it was filmed in your neck of the woods or because of the cast??

      GREAT review of To The Wonder, I can’t wait to see that one but most likely on a rental at this point.

      1. The location is certainly one part of it that intrigues me. I’m also really excited about the cast. McConaughey and Witherspoon get top billing but Jeff Nichols’ favorite Michael Shannon is also in it. Love his work. Also thrilled to see Ray McKinnon and Sam Shepard with roles as well.

        But I also LOVE Jeff Nichols and his directing style. His first two films, Take Shelter and Shotgun Stories, blew me away. He’s going right back to familiar territory with Mud and I’m so excited to see it.

          1. I was glad to see it get a PG-13 and Nichols doesn’t really have a propensity towards heavy violence. Of course PG-13 can be misleading these days. This one feels more like a thriller with a focus on intensity. I’m getting excited talking about it! 🙂

            1. Oh it’s PG-13, then I most certainly can handle it. I was just told one of the films I’ll be screening has tons of nudity in it, ugh!! YES I wish more thrillers just focus on the intensity build-up and tense writing, instead of blood and gore!

    1. WOW, we must be commenting at the same time on each other’s blog, so cool!! You mean the dolphins?? Or did I miss the whale one when I fell asleep, LOL

        1. Ohhh THAT whale scene!! Yes I do remember, d’oh!! I wasn’t falling asleep yet, ahah. It’s such a hoot! I LOVE that he was trying to figure out the term for ‘ground’ just before he hits it, ahahaha… THANKS Tim!

            1. LOVE it!! It’s funny but the two types of fish – dolphins and the whale – and a robot are the most memorable characters of the bunch!! 😀

  3. Ted S.

    I think I rented The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on Bluray a while back but fell asleep while watching it. So I don’t remember it that well.

    I didn’t see anything new over the weekend, went through piles of my BDs and decided to watch Escape from NY. A great early 80s sci-fi flick, wish they had more money and advanced special effects when they made it. I don’t mind seeing the much delay remake of this one.

    1. Ahah, so I’m not the only one falling asleep watching this!! It’s too bad as I really like the cast.

      I actually haven’t seen Escape from NY. Hey maybe one day you could give me a Blu-ray review of that one? Or do a post why you think the remake might be worth seeing??

  4. Never saw The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and it looks like that was probably a wise choice. 😉

    Two films I really liked that I saw over the weekend were Mona Lisa and To the Wonder, which I’ve already rewatched. 🙂

    1. Ahah yeah, unless you’re really curious about it, I’m thinking the TV series is still a lot better. Well, looks like you had better luck w/ the film choices this weekend, Josh.

  5. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth and company:

    ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ is between one half and two thirds of a great film. Whose opening is quite good. Only to lose it to over the top Sam Rockwell and John Malkovitch. Cheap rubber suits. Vogons and their bureaucratic poetry and poorly executed special effects that don’t help move the story along.

    The Omni Possibility Drive is quite cool. Marvin is under utilized. Stephen Fry’s narration is exactly what is expected and needed. As is Helen Mirren’s “Deep Thought”. Though I still prefer the old original, low budgeted, near free of special effects mini-series from the BBC.

    1. “…between one half and two thirds of a great film” That’s perfect, Jack! I feel that I was even being generous w/ 3/5 but I did enjoy parts of it and Marvin’s awesome! I agree he could have even more screen time! No surprise that the BBC version is superior, what else is new w/ Hollywood adaptations, ahah.

  6. Glad to see you were able to pencil in Mud, Ruth! Looking forward to your thoughts on that one.

    I started watching Hitchhiker’s Guide a couple years ago but ended up falling asleep halfway through it, so you’re not alone on that. I would like to go back and revisit it though. Better yet, I would like to read the book, which everyone raves about.

    1. I was curious to see MUD for Matthew’s performance, looks different from what I’ve seen him in so far. Hope it lives up to the hype it’s received so far.

      Wow, another one falling asleep to Hithchiker’s Guide, ahah! Yeah, I’m convinced the book is far better!

    1. I know, bummer! I really wanted to like it, I really do! I mean I like the cast, but somehow it was quite boring in the middle of it that I fell asleep, my hubby did too! 😀 I do think the concept is great, it’s just the movie could’ve been sooo much better! I’ll check out your post though. Thanks Ruth!

    1. Yeah, it’s certainly gonna be a busy week! Fortunately I’ve prepared some posts from this weekend as I won’t have very much time blogging after work 😀

  7. I’ve read the books and loved most of them (the last two are kind of weak). I enjoyed the movie, but I can definitely see how it doesn’t hold up in a lot of respects. The timing is off in a lot of ways and some of the gags they chose to import from the books don’t translate well — and some of the gags they made up for the film don’t work either. That said, I still had a lot of fun with it as an “alternate take” on the franchise (which pretty much every different medium for the franchise has been).

    Marvin is definitely the highlight, though. I think they nailed him.

  8. I too enjoyed Galaxy Quest more than Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I found the first one much more entertaining and amusing, perhaps because the latter was a bit too bizarre. But yeah, Marvin was awesome 😛

    1. I think I like Marvin because it’s got Alan Rickman’s voice. If it has Richard’s voice, I’d sooo want to take that robot home, ahahaha…

  9. Pingback: » Movie Review – Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, The Fernby Films

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