What an unmitigated, limp and haphazard disaster of a film. Fans of Douglas Adams will be left cold if not insulted, and the sheer glory of the books is completely unrecognisable in this sad excuse for cinema. With the possible exception of
Sam Rockwell Martin Freeman (see EDIT below) as Arthur Dent (who did his best, but still needed better direction), the rest of the cast were disastrous, unfeeling, predictable, ridiculous and wan. If I could erase the woman who played Trillian from my memory of the film, I would be relieved. Mos Def was entirely inappropriate as Ford, his comedic lines were lost and his attitude confusing. The creation of the new character played by John Malkovich was not just unnecessary, but frankly, embarrassing, and while I am usually a fan of Bill Nighy, as Slartibartfast he’s just wrong. Even Helen Mirren as the voice of Deep Thought was laughable – and not in a good way.
The best part of the film was seeing the original Marvin (from the television series) making a cameo appearance in a queue, and the image of Simon Jones (the original Arthur Dent from the radio series as well as the TV series) as the recording system from the legendary planet of Magrathea. Stephen Fry as the voice of the book was passable, and the opening sequence musical, ‘So Long and Thanks for All the Fish’, was visually interesting and curiously, rather Monty Python-esque. Plus it was nice to hear the original theme song played – though confusingly it was the music which heralded a kind of second set of opening titles when the book started up. Other than that I just wanted to walk out, but sat there, distressed and empty of the vital spirit that permeated the work of Douglas Adams.
Please. If you love Adams, spare yourself this wretched blight on the Hitchhikers landscape. Not because it doesn’t reproduce the original work, but because it vandalises it.
EDIT: Thanks to Lou for pointing out my error in identifying Sam Rockwell as Arthur Dent instead of Martin Freeman. I have no idea why I did that. Of course I meant Freeman, whose performances I’ve enjoyed in The Office, rather than Rockwell, who was extremely ordinary as Zaphod. Didn’t mind Rockwell in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but that was a while back now.