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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: B
Video/Audio/Extras: B+/B+/C+

Directed by: Garth Jennings
Written by: Douglas Adams and Karey Kirkpatrick
Based on the book by: Douglas Adams
Produced by: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, Nick Goldsmith and Jay Roach
Starring: Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel, Anna Chancellor, John Malkovich, Stephen Fry
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Rent it

Douglas Adams's Hitchhiker's Guide franchise had consisted of a radio series, a trilogy of books, a television show and a video game. However, it was never made into a feature film and it was already in development hell since the 1980's. After Adams's saddening death in 2001, the chances of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy going onto the big screen were very low. However, Jay Roach (the director of Meet the Parents) would not stand for it and found Adams's last written work: The Hitchhiker's Guide movie screenplay. He hired Chicken Run writer Karey Kirkpatrick to polish it up and got a hold of music video director Garth Jennings to go behind the camera. The result is a fun ride.

Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is a tea-loving Brit whose house has to be torn down to make way for a bypass. To make his life even worse, his best friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def) tells him that he is actually an alien gone to Earth to find information to put in the best-selling book in the universe called "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and that Earth is about to be destroyed by Vogons. Before Arthur can react, the two hitch a ride with one of the Vogon spacecrafts and get punished by being read poetry. Arthur and Ford are sucked into space, but by luck are caught by the Heart of Gold spaceship, which has been stolen by the newly elected President Zaphod (Sam Rockwell).

The film starts off with a brilliant song sung by dolphins called "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish." Unfortunately, the rest of the film doesn't capture the magic of that scene. There are some great jokes, though and I especially liked John Malkovich's new character created especially for the film. Martin Freeman (who was brilliant in the British version of The Office) gives the best performance in the cast and plays Arthur as a regular person who everyone likes. He is probably the most likable actor out there. I would recommend that you read the book before jumping in to watch this so that you're not confused. The video and audio aren't that bad, but they could have been much better and they a "B+" grade each.

Touchstone Pictures hasn't really jam-packed this DVD, but there are still some fun extras to be found. First is an audio commentary with director Garth Jennings, producer Nick Goldsmith and actors Martin Freeman and Bill Nighy. This is a fun chat as they recall the fun they had making the film. There is also a second audio commentary with executive producer Robbie Stamp and a friend of Douglas Adams called Sean Solle. This is a very informative piece that looks at the life and work of Adams. "The Making of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is mostly a promotional featurette which provides some nice points, but still not an extensive documentary. An incredibly short deleted guide entry is next and it is a very fun scene. This is one of my favourite parts in the book, so I was upset that they took it out. Some live-action deleted scenes follow and they are also funny, but would have put the story to a halt. There are also some fun (I am using that word a lot in my reviews.) outtakes with the actors playing around.

The "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish" scene is played again with cute dolphins jumping onto of the letters. Yes, it's not necessary, but I love this song too much to care. "Marvin's Hangman" is an annoying, little game that provides no reward. The DVD begins with previews for Flightplan, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Dark Water and Lost. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with other advertisements for Chicken Little, Aliens in the Deep, Beautiful People and TV on DVD. I quite liked the Hitchhiker's Guide trailers, so it's unfortunate that they don't appear here.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy offers a funny and unique science-fiction comedy. However, one should rent it before they decide to buy it, because this might not be everyone's cup of tea.

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