My daughter and I got in to a sneak preview of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy last night. Fittingly, the preview was held at a brand new theater in St. Louis County called the Galaxy 14.
It’s clear that people who score tickets to sneak previews aren’t necessarily the ones who most want to see the movie. My wife, my daughter, and I are huge Douglas Adams fans; we own the complete HHGG anthology, four books in all, both of his “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency” novels, and his Mac-only Starship Titanic computer game. Naturally, we expected at least a few other Adams fans at the show last night, but as it turned out, we were the only ones who brought towels!
We considered bringing beer and peanuts, but decided not to push our luck. (If you don’t get those references, read the book before you see the movie.)
Adapting something so brilliantly different as HHGG to the big screen runs the risk of mangling a classic into something unrecognizable. Although there are elements in the film that were not in Douglas Adams’ wildly inventive novel (elements that stick out, if not like a sore thumb, at least like a Chicago Cubs t-shirt in the Busch Stadium bleachers), they didn’t detract enough from the movie to slow it down for long.
The visuals are amazing; the characters are well cast, although I would have liked a bit more Michael Keaton Betelgeuse-like zaniness from Sam Rockwell’s Zaphod; and overall, the movie stays fairly true to Douglas Adams’ original work. Among the changes is a happier, Hollywood-style finish, with the door left open for a sequel at the end of the universe. (Read the book.) It worked well enough for me, and the preview crowd, most of whom probably haven’t read HHGG, offered a healthy round of applause when the closing credits started to roll.
All in all, on a scale of 1 to 10, I give The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a 42. (Read the book.)