A seemingly typical Thursday throws Englishman Arthur Dent for a loop as he witnesses the destruction, in rapid succession, of his house and then the entire world. That he witnesses the latter event instead of being caught up in it is solely thanks to the intervention of his quirky friend Ford Prefect, who turns out to be an alien in disguise, researching Earth for a publication known as the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. After escaping Earth’s demise, Ford and a dazed Arthur wind up aboard the stolen starship Heart Of Gold, whose captain, Zaphod Beeblebrox, is out of both of his minds. But Arthur is also reunited with Tricia McMillan, the only other surviving human being, and reminds her that she once turned down his advances in favor of an incognito Zaphod at a party on Earth. Soon, the Heart Of Gold is being pursued not only by a Vogon fleet trying to recover both the ship and Zaphod, but also by Humma Kavula, the candidate who Zaphod beat out for the presidency of the galaxy. Tricia is captured by the Vogons on a planet to which Kavula diverts the Heart Of Gold, and Arthur sets out to rescue her, even if he can’t necessarily win her heart in the attempt.
screenplay by Douglas Adams and Karey Kirkpatrick
based on the book by Douglas Adams
directed by Garth Jennings
music by Joby Talbot
Cast: Martin Freeman (Arthur Dent), Sam Rockwell (Zaphod Beeblebrox), Mos Def (Ford Prefect), Zooey Deschanel (Trillian), Stephen Fry (The Voice of the Book), Warwick Davis (Marvin), Alan Rickman (Voice of Marvin), John Malkovich (Humma Kavula), Bill Nighy (Slartibartfast), Helen Mirren (Deep Thought), Richard Griffiths (Jeltz), Thomas Lennon (Eddie the Computer), Bill Bailey (The Whale), Anna Chancellor (Questular Rontok), Su Eliott (Pub Customer), Dominique Jackson (Fook), Simon Jones (Ghostly Image), Mark Longhurst (Bulldozer Driver), Kelly Macdonald (Reporter), Ian McNeice (Kwaltz), Steve Pemberton (Mr. Prosser / additional Vogon Voice), Mark Gatiss (additional Vogon Voice), Reece Shearsmith (additional Vogon Voice), Jack Stanley (Lunkwill), Mak Wilson (Vogon Interpreter), Albie Woodington (Barman), Jerome Blake (Vogon Soldier), Dan Ellis (Vogon Soldier), Tim Perrin (Vogon Soldier), Tucker Stevens (Vogon Soldier), Ben Uttley (Vogon Soldier), Patrick Walker (Vogon Soldier), Mason Ball (Creature Performer), Sarah Bennett (Creature Performer), Danny Blackner (Creature Performer), Hayley Burroughs (Creature Performer), Cecily Faye (Creature Performer), Ian Kay (Creature Performer), Nigel Plaskitt (Creature Performer), Lynne Robertson Bruce (Creature Performer)
Notes: The original Marvin suit from the 1981 BBC TV series makes a quite visible appearance in the office queue on Vogsphere. Similarly, Simon Jones, the TV series’ Arthur Dent, appears as the cheerfully threatening (and honest-to-Zarquon anaglyphic) “answering machine” spokesbeing who threatens to destroy anyone approaching Magrathea.
Steve Pemberton, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith were credited in the movie as “The League of Gentlemen,” also the name of their well-loved UK comedy series (and, at the time of Hitchhiker’s release, upcoming movie); composer Joby Talbot was the resident musician on The League of Gentlemen. Gatiss has also written Doctor Who novels as well as the third episode of the new version of that series. Coincidentally, Bill “Slartibartfast” Nighy was the runner-up for the role of the Doctor, narrowly losing out to Christopher Eccleston.
Stephen Fry continued his Hitchhiker’s Guide association by lending his voice to the final episodes of the BBC radio series relaunched in 2004.
Richard Griffiths was the voice of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz in this movie, but in the recent relaunch of the radio series he was the voice of Slartibartfast, filling in for the late Richard Vernon.
The face of Douglas Adams can be seen prominently in two scenes; his face is one of the custom worlds under construction in the Magrathean planet-building yards, and his face is also the last thing into which the Infinite Improbability Drive morphs the Heart of Gold before the end credits. Adams’ family, including his wife, are among the panicked London crowds glimpsed briefly before the world ends.
Jerome Blake seems to spend a lot of time filling out aliens’ skins; he has also had roles in all three of the Star Wars prequels, as well as The Fifth Element.
Review: I’ve avoided other people’s reviews for this movie as much as possible to see this one with my eyes and my mind wide open, so I don’t really know if anyone out there is actually in the process of actively disliking The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. For my part, I loved it – between this and what I’ve seen of the new Doctor Who, I feel like British science fiction is entering a renaissance (though I’m waiting to see if The Tripods ever escape Hollywood development hell before I award the triple crown on that front). But the Guide made it through relatively unscathed – even with some Hollywoodification, the movie is tremendously enjoyable and surprisingly true to its source material, in tone if not necessarily in word-for-word faithfulness. Continue reading