Last night I went to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
I hadn't planned on going at all. In fact, I vowed I wouldn't. When the first teaser trailer popped up at the movie theaters I swore under my breath, and when I saw Disney was doing it I lost all hope.
Don't get me wrong. I love Douglas Adams' books. In fact, the first book of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series is my favorite of his books and one of my favorite books of all time actually. But it was my feeling that it would be extremely difficult to translate this wonderful, witty little book into a film.
So I said that I wouldn't go. I had no need to see Douglas Adams carved up into bite-sized Hollywood pieces.
The critics slammed it of course, but I don't care much for critics. I have a few trusted friends, however, who proclaimed the film funny and worthy of the books. And in an uncharacteristically charitable move, my boss gave me a couple of free movie passes last week, so I decided what the heck? Let's go see the movie.
Well, we don't have to agree with our friends all the time and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But this is my blog so you get to hear mine.
Shall I paraphrase for you? When we walked out of the movie theater, my friend said, "What'd you think of the movie, Shannon?"
"Stupid? It wasn't all that bad. It had this part and that part and the part where that thing happened was pretty funny."
"Mostly stupid," I amended.
And yes, there were some funny parts. There were some gags from the book that made me laugh and there were some gags from the book that didn't come off all that well and probably should have been left out. The plot wasn't exactly the same but who cares about the plot? That's hardly the point. The improbability drive provided some good laughs, as improbability drives tend to do. Alan Rickman voiced the depressed Marvin and did a wonderful job, as Alan Rickman does in everything, really.
Here's the thing. Whatever magic brilliance it is that makes the books cool, the filmmakers missed it entirely.
So what else is there to say really?
Now you readers at home are undoubtly thinking, "But, Shannon, didn't Douglas Adams help write the screenplay for the movie?" Yeah, and Brent Spiner wrote Star Trek Nemesis and I still haven't forgiven him for that piece of crap. So clearly not everyone is brilliant all the time. Besides, there are worlds more to making a good film than just the writing. If you don't believe me, I can recommend some movies that massacred Shakespeare's plays.
But back to Hitchhiker's... Well, it wasn't a total waste of two hours of my life and as I didn't pay for it, it wasn't a waste of $8 either. I got a few laughs out of it and a bit of the sinking feeling that comes from witnessing something cool lead into something mediocre. Such is life. Not to sound like any robots we know, but I shouldn't have expected it to be good anyway.
The upshot of all of this is that a few more people out there will read the books, and that is encouraging.
Of course a whole bunch of movie goers that didn't read the books are now going to get our inside jokes about towels and the answer to life, the universe, and everything.
But just because you know the answer doesn't mean you get the question.