That’s my two word review of 2005’s movie adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Thanks for reading! ROLL CREDITS!
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
Director: Garth Jennings
Screenwriter: Douglas Adams, Karey Kirkpatrick
Cast: Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Zooey Daschanel, Sam Rockwell, Alan Rickman, Warwick Davis
Runtime: 109 minutes
Rated: PG for thematic elements, action, and mild language
WAIT! No, I have a job to do and we are going to see it through.
Not even an Improbability Drive Could Save It
Hey, listen, I mean it’s not bad. Certainly a far cry from, say, Vogen poetry torture bad. It’s just… Mostly Harmless. Don’t you hate it when that happens with one of your beloved literary properties with a number of personal readings that amount to double digits? Ahhhh!
It should come as no shock to hear the novel is so much better. Even an Infinite Improbability Drive would be hard pressed to find any success bringing Adams’s trademark whimsical observations and descriptions to life.
The lowdown: Hitchhiker’s is the story of Arthur Dent, an Englishman facing some bad news. His home is being demolished to make room for a highway. Worse news? Earth is scheduled to be removed because it stands in the way of plans for a hyperspace bypass. But good news! Alien and Guide researcher Ford Prefect manages to whisk him off planet just in time! Before long they find themselves in a stolen spaceship piloted by the three-armed and two-faced – LITERALLY – Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford’s semi-cousin and president of the universe, and Trillian, a fellow refugee from earth. As Arthur travels the stars, he finds himself seeking the meaning of life … or something like that.
Whether it be the original radio play from 1978, the subsequent novelization, or the 2005 film, there is no shortage of ways to get familiarized with Douglas Adams’ fantastically funny and absurdist sci-fi classic.
Back to the mostly harmless film. The casting is full of win. As fans of the British version of The Office well know, nobody does awkward – a necessary trait to bringing Arthur to life – quite like Martin Freeman. The late great Alan Rickman (with geekdom icon Warwick Davis in the suit) is pitch perfect voicing Marvin the Paranoid Android. Sam Rockwell is annoyingly over the top as Zaphod, but that is sort of the point of his character, I suppose. Mos Def exudes cool as Ford and if you don’t like Zooey Deschanel’s Trillian, or Zooey (New Girl, Elf) period, you are a straight up monster. Stephen Fry brilliantly narrates!
Despite its okay-ness, I haven’t returned to the film since I saw it in the theater 16 years ago. But the book though? I must have read it at least a dozen times! Let’s face it, some literary works have a certain nuance that just doesn’t translate to the visual medium. This is one such case.
Here are 4 quotes that will blow your intergalactic mind and 2 that will give you a whole new perspective on life, the universe, and everything. See what I did there? Because…
Oh, and along the way, expect a personal stamp of Silver Screen Self Care.
“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”
Not only are dolphins cute (albeit sometimes dangerous, don’t be fooled!), but they are also onto something. That being a something that children also “get,” but falls to the wayside during adulthood – the importance of play! At some point we put down the Star Wars figures and began putting more emphasis on jobs, relationships, family. But play actually complements these areas of life.
Play keeps us young at heart. It releases endorphins, increases creativity and results in improved brain functionality. Aren’t you glad there are really smart people working on this stuff, despite the proclamation from Wonko the Sane that, “you can’t possibly be a scientist if you mind people thinking that you’re a fool”? (So Long and Thanks for All the Fish)
According to a study published in the journal, Personality and Individual Differences, there are four different types of play:
- those who enjoy “fooling around” with friends, relatives and colleagues;
- the lighthearted who are generally not preoccupied with consequences of their behavior;
- those who play with thoughts and ideas;
- And people who find interest in the strange and unusual things in life and amusement in the small, every day things.
We can learn to be playful by nurturing these attributes. Which one(s) are you?
“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
For real, though. Have you noticed time goes by faster on your lunch hour? WHAT DARK MAGIC IS THIS???! That said, savor every moment. Savor every bite!
“I'd far rather be happy than right any day.”
Have you ever placed the need to be “right” over the health of your relationships? *raises hand* GUILTY. Even when I am wrong, it’s easy to manufacture reasons to be right! Sometimes it is worth the battle, many times it is not. Important social media skill!
You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young." "Why, what did she tell you?" "I don't know, I didn't listen.”
Listen to your mom!
This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
Funny thing, money. I regard the early years of my past marriage, the time as poor graduate students, at our most limited financially, when we would exercise such creativity just to pay the bills… as our happiest years. Huh? How could this be?
The Harvard Business Review asks a compelling question: “How often have you willingly sacrificed your free time to make more money?” Research suggests that prioritizing money over time may actually undermine our happiness.
That’s not to say that having money automatically leads to discontent. After all, financial problems can lead to great stress! But still, the HBR recommends we ask ourselves the following two questions: What do I buy that isn’t essential for my survival? Is the expense genuinely contributing to my happiness? If the answer to the latter is no, lay off. If yes? Enjoy.
Purchase less THINGS and instead lend your money towards experiences, creatively making more time, and investing in others. Maybe in that perspective, money can buy a bit of happiness, after all?
“A towel, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”
Isn’t the lesson obvious here? Never forget your towel!
Where to Watch (And Read!)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is streaming on HBO Max and Hoopla. For the novel, check out your local library or local bookstore. Want to shop online and still support independent sellers? Look into bookstore.org
What do you think? What were your favorite quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Did you enjoy the film more than I did? Let me know in the comments below!
Scott is a movie lover who brings over 20 years experience in mental health, journalism and vocational ministry. He has a Masters of Divinity degree, which is not nearly as amazing sounding as Masters of the Universe, but it is what it is. It is here at Movies That Move Us where his powers combine! It is not uncommon to find him pretending to open automatic doors using The Force.