Yes, I took my purple towel along with me this evening for the sneak preview of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and I was rewarded for completely geeking out. Not only did the towel actually come in handy several times (wiping the butter from the high carb popcorn off my hands, drying my hands after leaving the restroom, and making a little cozy in my lap for the popcorn to sit in), but those of us who came prepared to hitchhike received a free t-shirt.
I still wonder what they gave the people who showed up wearing their bathrobes. (Which of course, is the American equivalent of Arthur’s dressing gown.)
Oh, and the movie itself? A solid 4.5/5 in my opinion.
I was pleasantly surprised; it was much better than I expected. True, it doesn’t follow the book strictly, but it’s definitely got the spirit of it, as well as the sly humor. And really, considering the book was done after it had been a radio show, and the BBC television series wasn’t a strict retelling of the book, why should it be a direct translation? It is quite evident that Douglas Adams himself had a big hand in a good bit of the script before his death. I applaud the producers for staying true to his work.
Mos Def was actually fantastic as Ford Prefect, which is the one bit of casting I had the most misgivings about, and Sam Rockwell was completely over-the-top, just as anyone playing Zaphod Beeblebrox should be. Alan Rickman’s voice as Marvin… well, hell, I knew that was going to be brilliant the minute I heard about it. The depiction of the actual Hitchhiker’s Guide was inspired, and true to form, Henson’s creature creators did much justice to the ugliness that is a Vogon. The cuts to narration were near perfect in timing, and Stephen Fry brought the perfect amount of dryness to the part.
Still, I have to leave off the half credit that would give this movie the ranking of perfect in my eyes. There were a few moments (but really, very few) that dragged a little, where I found my attention drifting. (Though some of that may have been due to the distraction of the person next to me, see below.) The only other criticism I have though is that so very much of the book is left out… so many fabulous bits of humor that I think could have survived the cut. If they indeed filmed some of these segments, I am truly looking forward to a DVD release for the extras, or (dare I dream?) a director’s cut.
I honestly can’t imagine having not read the books - I have done so repeatedly through the years - but this is one case where I actually think someone who hasn’t read them could enjoy the movie just as much as those of us who could already quote lines without having seen it. (”Here I am, brain the size of a planet…”) I think they might not be able to fully appreciate the quirky qualities of Rockwell’s portrayal of the President of the Galaxy, and I will say there were several moments of hilarity sort of falling into the area of inside jokes that will swoop right over the non-book fans’ heads, which is a pity. But I’d still recommend it to just about anyone.
Just a friendly piece of advice: if you should find yourself in the theater to see this movie, hang around for the credits no matter how badly you have to pee. It’s worth it. Also, pay close attention to the planets that are shown at Magrathea.
Of course, this all means that I, she who actually abhors much of the general public, was forced to stand in line and watch a movie with a full house of actual people, many of whom were only there because it was a free screening. This was slightly torturous at times, especially since the lovely fellow next to me felt the need to exclaim, at every slight turn of plot or funny moment, “Nuh uh!” or “Naw!” quite loudly, sometimes while pointing at the screen. This was made more painful for me because Joe had pointed out his companion as being a movie critic for the Plain Dealer (the newspaper here in town, for those of you who have much better named newspapers). Really… you’d think a movie critic would have well trained movie-going friends.
The best people related moment of the night though was when the group behind us in line began wondering aloud why so many people had towels. (It did actually say on the pass “Don’t forget to bring your towel” - though I’d like to point out the fact that I was planning on doing that long before I saw these passes.) They discussed this amongst themselves for a few minutes, and of course, could not come up with any sort of reasonable explanation. So they asked the group of geeks standing next to us (who were also wearing their bathrobes) why they had towels. One of the boys perfectly deadpanned, “You should never go anywhere without your towel.” I remembered why I love geeks in that moment.