Recently I’ve been on a Hitchhiker’s/Adams kick. I’ve been listening to the original radio series which is one of the most inspired and silly things I’ve ever listened to. I’ve given the books a miss since I’ve read them so many times I never need to read them again. I’ve practically got the plot and jokes memorized. I recently watched the television series as well. It’s not great, but it’s fun. Then I tried to watch the movie. I couldn’t finish this time.
To quote Adams in reference to another project, the film is “on the lower end of brilliant down toward not terribly good”. It’s less a film and more a tribute. It’s like the took Hitchhiker’s and starched, then ironed on the jokes out. It has the feeling of a fan film, but one where they thought they could do a better job than the original author. This was made by people who obviously loved the books, but somehow missed the entire point of the project. They brushed against a few of the truly funny jokes and managed to miss entire sections of humor. The Guide narration was also botched to me. Stephen Fry was a perfect choice but all of his material felt rushed.
There are a few things that I thought were a good idea in the film. I enjoyed the guide entries. I thought Sam Rockwell was amazing as Zaphod, though he lacked the underlying plotting and intelligence from all the other versions. This Zaphod was actually stupid. Not his fault. Alan Rickman was a great choice for the voice of Marvin and I loved the design. The Vogons looked great. In fact, I enjoyed the visuals of the film, but the actual structure that supported all of it was flawed from the get go.
In the end, yes it was a lovely tribute to an amazing man, but as a film is had a lot of major problems. Even Adams had gone on record as saying it was unfilmable.