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“Don’t Panic, The Hitchhiker is Onboard”
hitchhikers guide to the galaxy  
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“The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy,” Douglas Adams’ 70s cult classic has finally caught a ride towards Hollywood, arriving on the silver screen in all its absurd glory. A carnival funhouse of improbable images and existential theories, “Hitchhiker” captures the essence of Adams’ offbeat observations and makes for a delightful two hours.

As a chipper opening song relays, the world will be ending any moment now. Dolphins, who unbeknownst to man surpass their “masters” in intelligence, are privy to this tidbit of Armageddon, but dense humans have mistaken their cues as pet tricks.

Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman, “Love Actually”) appreciates life the way it always has been. Though the city intends to tear apart his modest home to make room for a thoroughfare, Arthur refuses to let them destroy his normalcy.

He doesn’t know it but his home will be demolished, his home planet Earth, to make room in the universe for a hyperspace thoroughfare. Before expiring with the rest of humanity, Arthur hitches a ride with his alien best friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def, “The Woodsman”) onto a ship before the Earth explodes. So begins the misadventures of Arthur, a man who would have been content to take no risks, yet has been set free by circumstances.

After being persecuted by captors who utilize poetry as a form of Chinese water torture, Arthur and Fort slip onto the hijacked ship of President Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell, “Matchstick Men”), his human gal-Friday Trillian (Zooey Deschanel, “The Good Girl”), his nihilistic robot Marvin (inhabited by Warwick Davis, “Return Of The Jedi”, and voiced by Alan Rickman “Die Hard”) and his over-zealous ship that sounds like Mr. Moviephone.

Beeblebrox, obsessed with the ultimate question in the universe, drags his passengers across the wide divide in search of the super computer, Deep Thought (voiced by Helen Mirren, “Prime Suspect”). She has already announced the answer, but the question holds the key.

Director Garth Jennnings blends live action, special effects and animation to assemble a plausible universe where anything can happen and nothing is what it seems. Author Adams began his career writing for “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” and Jennings enhances the film with cartoons similar to the wacky vignettes found in the popular British comedy.

Many of the imaginative characters have been translated to the screen, while new characters fit perfectly into this buffoonery. There are the Babelfish, which leech inside people’s brains and translate any language and the bureaucratic gelatinous-looking Vogons with noses turned up and level with their eyes and lips that look like Mick Jagger with a collagen addiction. Created by Adams for the film, Humma Kavula (John Malkovich) preaches at a planet that believes the big bang was more of a massive sneeze. The ludicrousness of the commanding Malkovich as a torso, with mini metal legs looks like a centipede slipped down the magical portal in “Being John Malkovich.”

The jovial performances enhance this odyssey. Mos Def as Arthur’s slightly effete best friend shucks his usual serious face in films like “Something The Lord Made,” for an impish persona. Freeman perfectly portrays everyman; content in ordinariness, unprepared for all the adventures into which life thrusts him. Deschanel, with a deadpan voice that scrapes the lower octaves, harks back to a forties heroine, with Bette Davis eyes and Lauren Bacall voice. Sam Rockwell steals the show, dressed in a toss-off garment from Riverdance with Fabio blond locks and black nail polish; he appears to be mirroring Colin Farrell in “Alexander,” yet Rockwell’s appearance is appropriately pompous and ridiculous.

Rarely does a two-hour film speed by like on a hyperspace freeway, but armed with an enigmatic but courageous source material, sparkling images of space and earth, and a captivating cast, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy” could be the runaway hit of the summer. Grade: A-

 
 
 
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