The Movie

There are those who were disappointed by Garth Jennings` interpretation of Douglas`s story; saying something different should have been done with that whole Arthur Trillian Zaphod love interest business and perhaps not enough of Douglas`s love of language on display. Others will rave that it was extraordinarily fun and wouldn`t it be great if we could more of the flying dolphins. Perhaps one could be shown whizzing along in space reading a book of toilet humor only to find itself very suddenly and very messily smacking into the Heart of Gold, or perhaps a Vogon ship, or anything else really but we absolutely must have more of the dolphins. And then some exist who appreciate the efforts of all involved, think it was fine enough, but mostly are just very pleased that the damned thing finally got made and relieved that it wasn`t rubbish. I am a member of that group, so our discussion begins as rather forgiving of the areas which have others somewhat disappointed.

What I believe is of the greatest importance in approaching the film is to understand the level of difficulty in bringing this to the screen. It must be acceptable to the long-time fans who have delved into the world of the Guide perhaps even further than its author and come away writing web pages about it, along with those who have never heard of the story of Arthur Dent prior to watching the film, the studio, himself and any number of other interests whom I`ve not even thought of. Also, those that loved it in other forms I think for most the favorite medium is the novel should not expect the same effect because the cinema demands the story be told by other means. Those that loved Douglas`s ridiculous sentences of three and four lines, with any number of multiple-negatives thrown in to confuse the situation, may not approve of Arthur, Ford and Zaphod being smacked in the face by flyswatter-like plants.

All this in mind, is the film a classic? Will it be revered as the book has? Is it a significant cinematically as the books are in a literary sense? In all cases, I say no. Mr. Jennings, through all his toil has brought us, instead, a generally more fun than average space traveling-romance-adventure-comedy. I chafe at the idea of laying out whether the film was "good" or "bad," though that`s probably what the bosses expect me to do, because through such rigid delineations we lose sight of whether, and to what degree, the film accomplished its goals. Of course, this can be said to be merely a different way of calling a film "good" or "bad" just as I could I think rather easily be called a Jennings apologist. But in both cases I think the point is, if only slightly, missed. What is ultimately achieved by his team is the creation of a film that, through all its faults, stands on its own, one which fulfilled to a certain degree bringing across the love of absurdity and language and especially absurd uses of language (the Guide entries are easily my favorite aspects of the film, and the casting of Steven Fry as the voice was probably the best decision of the whole film), and one which I was very pleased to plunk down another ten bucks to see it again.