The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Starring: Martin Freeman, Zooey Deschanel
Written by: Douglas Adams, Karey Kirkpatrick
Books by: Douglas Adams
Directed by: Garth Jennings
How good is this movie?
Full disclosure: I’m a big H2G2 fan. I’ve read all the books, watched the mini-series, and listened to the radio play more times that I can count. So, obviously, this movie has a lot to live up to. It fails, but not without a valiant effort. I appreciated the few truly original and imaginative moments, like the string puppet scene or the Point of View Gun. I think Martin Freeman makes a pretty good Arthur Dent; I like the retro special effects; and, of course, I love that Marvin saves the day! However, I’m sceptical of some of the other casting choices, and especially of the presentation of Zaphod. Almost all the good lines are taken from earlier versions of the story, and jokes that worked in a largely verbal medium don’t transfer well to a cinematic context. And while I admire the attempt to combine the whimsy and madness of the original with a coherent story, I can’t say it’s very successful.
How ace is this movie?
Like the earlier versions, the movie avoids sentimentalising friendship, but, unlike them, it idealises romance. The Arthur-Trillian relationship, which in other installments never goes anywhere, takes over the second half of the movie. That it is given so much importance is perplexing, given how little is done in the way of building it up. The characters meet once at a party and have only a brief conversation before Trillian is whisked off by Zaphod. In the original story, Arthur’s fixation on this encounter plays as a satire of sexual entitlement. His mistake is in being too sexually aggressive, in focusing on his desire for Trillian without considering that her desires might be different. In the movie, the meaning is reversed, and Arthur is blamed for not being sexually aggressive enough. That he balks from going to Madagascar with a girl whose name he doesn’t even know apparently establishes his timidity, which he must spend the rest of the film getting over. As the film progresses, Arthur gradually develops courage, but his acts of bravery are almost all about saving Trillian, which is as much about self-interest as heroism. The film ends with the heteronormative conclusion that the only question worth asking is “Is she the one?” This is apparently more important than the question of life, the universe, and everything, or any other question a man might ask about a woman. Still, there’s no sex, and romance is only one part of the story, which also dwells on the wackiness of the universe and the oddness of the characters.
How ace is Alan Rickman?
Character: voice of Marvin (manically depressed* robot with a brain the size of a planet)
Marvin isn’t just a robot, he’s depressed, cynical, and misanthropic. He doesn’t inspire friendship in others, nor does he seem to feel it for them. It’s probably safe to say he’s not only asexual, but aromantic to boot.
What if he is?
It’s probably just as well. Marvin may be a loveable character, but he’d make a terrible love-interest!
2.5 Stars; 3 Aces
* Marvin’s not really manically depressed; he’s just regular depressed. But he’s described as “manically depressed” throughout the franchise, so we’ll go with that.