The planet Earth has developed a slight eccentricity in its orbit. The cause? Douglas Adams spinning in his grave.
I consider myself a long-time aficionado of the original book – and its sequel, "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe", though I was not so fond of the remaining three.
Reminiscences aside, on to the movie. What did I like? Well, the special effects were, of course, excellent – but that is pretty much expected these days. The Heart of Gold and the Magrathea Shop Floor sequence in particular were beautifully done. Zaphod's heads were downright hysterical.
Stephen Fry was a natural choice for the narrator, and did a superb job. The portrayal of Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) was very good, though he seemed to be a little whiney in places. Marvin was also nicely – and unexpectedly – done. Interestingly the original Marvin and Arthur make cameo appearances – watch for them. Trillian was vivacious and spirited. Ford was Froody.
However, not all was sweetness and light… Ford (Mos Def, who reminds me of the cat in Red Dwarf), Trillian (Zooey Deschanel – what the HELL is a Zooey?) and Zaphod (Sam Rockwell) all have American accents. While Ford pulls it off and makes it work quite nicely, I find myself asking why on Earth – or anywhere else, for that matter – Zaphod had to affect a Texan drawl out of both of his heads. Perhaps it's the British snob in me coming out – the creator of this franchise was, after all, British. The last straw was Trillian – hearing her saying "I'm feeling peckish" in an American accent simply doesn't work.
What is far more serious is that some of the best lines in the book were cut, along with entire subplots. The entire "Beware of the Leopard" exchange is hacked out and replaced by one unfunny line. There was no mention of the Dentrassi. No Marvin humming like Pink Floyd. Most of laugh-out-loud moments from the book were simply… missing. In their place were other subplots were simply grafted on in a way that that left me scratching my heads. Zaphod having a head cut off? Filling out forms to rescue Trillian from the Bugblatter Beast of Traal? Romance between Trillian and Arthur? What were they thinking?
What were they smoking?
This is a movie that begins well, but spends the latter half wandering around trying to figure out where it wants to land.
Instead of a movie that would have explained the HHG phenomenon to those who were wondering what the fuss was about, I am left apologizing for what I consider to be an abortion of a film.
Douglas, I for one am glad that you didn't live to see this. You deserved better. Rest in Peace.