"Well, I found this ring on the Pope. I'm Sure he Won't Miss it."
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No Yuks Please, We're British
In its own British sort of way, Douglas Adamsí Hitchhikerís Guide brings up Important Issues like existentialism and religious fanaticism but then tries to politely brush them off through giggly, inconsequential writing. Itís maddening because thereís no reason that such issues couldnít be examined profoundly yet hilariously but this doesnít fail to elicit giggles all the same. The film, considered a separate entity from Adamsí cult-classic book and BBC Radio show, recounts British ineffectual Arthur Dentís (Martin Freeman) journey through the Universe after he flees Earth moments before its destruction. He is saved and, subsequently, guided by his alien neighbor Ford Prefect (Mos Def) who covered his intergalactic status by posing as an unemployed actor. Through this journey, Dent encounters all sorts of wacky characters and situations. Most consequentially are Galaxy President Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) and his girlfriend Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), who Arthur pined for on Earth coincidentally enough.
Beeblebrox is searching for the Question of Life after a super-computer has already determined The Answer of Life, assessing that the question was too difficult. Rockwell brings a nice, Bush-like Zen to his performance and the ideas presented with the concept offer multiple chances to tweak human curiosity and anxiety. Some of this is fleshed out, but largely Hitchhikerís Guide wastes too much energy assigning funny names to characters and odd quirks to situations. There are a lot of throwaways so statistics guarantee laughs at least half of the time. Alan Rickmanís voice as Marvin the Depressed Android tickled me through surprising delivery of predictable lines (When did Rickman turn into a reliable funnyman?) and I enjoyed the opening musical number. The deep cast and director Garth Jenningsís visual knack suggest something more could have been made of the late Adamsí work. Instead, the film never truly shakes that need to look and feel like Monty Python. But, despite that troopís improbability, they too made me laugh from time to time.