Release Date: April 29, 2005
Rating: PG (for thematic elements, action and mild language)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Comedy and Science Fiction/Fantasy
Run Time: 110 min.
Director: Garth Jennings
Actors: Sam Rockwell, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Warwick Davis, Stephen Fry and John Malkovich
It’s been a long time since I fell asleep in a movie (the last “Star Wars” film, I believe – which tells you just how much I’m looking forward to the new one). However, I sure had a good snooze during this one. Several, in fact. And maybe I’m just not cool, but somehow, when the only people excited about seeing this film are all former potheads, it definitely makes you wonder. Having seen it, I’m now convinced that unless you are a super geek on an acid trip, it would be difficult to appreciate this film.
The story – what little there is of one – begins on Earth, where Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman, of the BBC sitcom, “The Office”) is trying to stop the bulldozers from razing his house to the ground. He’s assisted by good buddy Ford Prefect (hip-hopper Mos Def, “The Italian Job”), who drags Arthur away to the local pub and informs him that Earth is about to be destroyed and that, (surprise!) he, Ford Prefect, is really an alien who can help Arthur survive. Ford and Arthur, who is still in his bathrobe and pajamas, hitch a ride on a spaceship piloted by the bad-poetry-reading Volgans (think: Jim Henson experiment gone bad). When discovered, they are ditched into space, then picked up by a spaceship called Heart of Gold, piloted by Zaphod Beeblebox (Sam Rockwell), president of the galaxy and dumb blonde extraordinaire. Accompanying Zaphod is Trillian (Zooey Deschanel), an astrophysicist formerly named Trish McMillan who Arthur recently met during a costume party.
From here on out, the plot is anybody’s guess. Our four main characters hop from planet to planet, engaging in crazy nonsense, outrunning nuclear missiles by turning them into pots of petunias, vomiting multi-colored yarn and paying visit to the planet of “missionary” Humma Kavula (John Malkovich), where his church-like followers all worship the sneeze, in an annoying church-like service. Although they encounter lots of problems, the film solves them all by jumping to completely different storylines, without solving the previous dilemma. Don’t forget your towel! Why? I’ll tell you later (no you won’t). Need a special gun? Yes, that’s our mission! But wait – look over there at that planet. Let’s go there instead! No, let’s try and discover The Ultimate Question of Life. Now, let’s find the answer to The Ultimate Question of Life (answer: 42). In the end (or actually, about 20 minutes into the film), we’ve lost all sense of who the characters are and what the heck they are doing. Then again, we don’t care, so it doesn’t really matter.
By choice, I did not read any of the five-part, bestselling trilogy that bears the title, written by the late Douglas Adams. For one, I can’t say that literary figures with names like Zaphod Beeblebox have ever intrigued me. But also, because the books (which were preceded by a BBC Radio series) came out in the late '70s, I figured that many of the people seeing the film would not have read it, either, and I wanted to be on the same … uh, planet. Unfortunately, I don’t think I am, because there were enough people buying this book to make it a bestseller, way back when – which may be enough to turn this film into a success. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.
Think “Monty Python” meets “Star Trek” meets “The Dark Crystal” – all on acid, I might add – and you’ve got this film. Basically, it’s a bunch of silly skits that, together, appear frighteningly disjointed. (Garth Jennings, your music video directing is showing.) The acting, uh, does it matter? Over-the-top performances by all, particularly Rockwell, who appears to be impersonating a stereotypical “dumb” George W. Bush crossed with a drugged-out rock star.
The message of the film, which is mockingly atheistic, is hinted at early on when the film describes three chapters of a book called “Where God Went Wrong;” “More of God’s Big Mistakes;” and “Who Is This God, Anyway?” The answer, it would appear, is nowhere, and those who seek him are as silly as the rest of the galaxy. Arthur sums it up at the end. “My head is filled with questions and I can assure you that none of the answers have ever brought me any happiness,” he says. “The only one that has is, ‘Is she the one?’”
Well, love is the answer, but not romantic love. Been there, done that, and without Christ, it’s just empty flesh. Heck, it’s hard enough with Christ, but without? Might as well explode the Earth (something that nobody even grieves about, by the way).
Frankly, this film too nonsensical to effectively convey the negative messages about the faith that it aspires too. And, on a purely cinematic level, it’s simply too superficial and silly to bring even a modicum of enjoyment. My advice? Hitch a ride somewhere else. Zzzzzzzzzzz.
AUDIENCE: Adults, teens and adolescents
- Drugs/Alcohol Content: Various scenes where characters drink wine and beer, in bars and out.
- Language/Profanity: Approximately half a dozen profanities/obscenities, mostly mild.
- Sexual Content/Nudity: Character implies sexual intentions with mildly suggestive comment about ‘going into space/the stratosphere’; couple kisses.
- Violence: Space-like fantasy violence; physical humor; discussion about destruction of Earth, prior to Earth being destroyed, but from afar (with no mayhem, fear or physical violence to humans shown).