Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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Just miss the ground

Jun 4, 2000 (Updated May 29, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Accurate to the books, the cheap nature makes it even more funny and perfect.

Cons:Some people don't like the cheap nature. It's just not as detailed as the novel.

The Bottom Line: The Bottom Line like petunias.


This movie just barely misses smashing itself on the ground. Originally aired as a BBC mini-series this movie is junk (but the good kind). It's grainy, the acting is less than stellar, the costumes are a joke, and they are very loyal to the Douglas Adams book.

Yes, it's an older movie, but even for the time this movie looks pretty bad, and that's part of the charm: Zaphod's second head constantly looks like it's trying to chew on his shoulder and the special effects are of the "glitter in water" old-school that are actually pretty entertaining. There is a lack of polish and Hollywood gleam to this movie which has probably helped turn it into the cult classic it is (the fact that it's part of a cultish empire doesn't hurt either).

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy started as a radio show and has been retold a number of times now (with the latest being the 2005 release of the Hollywood movie). Each time the tale is told it changes, but it has the same basic premise: Arthur Dent (Simon Jones) leads a relatively hum-drum British life until a by-pass is about to be built through his home. Unbeknownst to him there are actually two by-passes: the terrestrial Earth kind and the intergalactic kind (which will go through all of Earth). Fortunately his friend Ford Prefect (David Dixon) isn't actually a human. Ford is a writer for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, an electronic intergalactic travel guide, and whisks Arthur off the planet before it's destroyed. The story then follows these two as they meet Trillian (Sandra Dickinson) — the last human female — and Zaphod (Mark Wing-Davey) — the two-headed dimwitted President of the Galaxy — and romp around the galaxy in search of the ultimate question of life the universe and everything (they already know the answer is 42).

The movie is just fun. For example the The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy (the electronic book in the movie) is an "electronic" screen which demonstrates the topics through simple drawings that are quite amusing. It has a wonderfully cheesy feel that I'm sure Adams had a hand in. One of my favorite scenes is when the whale (there's only one) is described described and the line drawings that they use to show the whole scene, it's really wonderful. Fans of the book will most likely recognize these details and appreciate them; those unfamiliar with the story won't recognize these things but should still appreciate them.

This movie really is quite accurate to the book form of the story. I personally don't enjoy it quite as much as the books, but it is very good. Some of the detail was just missing, and it's the detail which make the novels so marvelous. Even so the main points are made and the campy appearance fits quite well with the occasionally campy story.

The acting is also pretty campy. The entire production feels as if they knew they were working on a low budget and they were going to play it that way. Marvin (the paranoid android) looks like he's made of cardboard and the others all shovel ham into their performances. Watching the show as a joke on itself just makes the experience that much more enjoyable.

This is not a tale which should be compared to the new 2005 blockbuster release in terms of "quality". There are so many differences in the tale and budget that they have roughly the same relationship to each other as either does to the radio series. Both are good and both have their particular charm so don't let the Hollywood glitz prevent you from watching this classic.


Recommend this product? Yes

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