Have Towel, Will Travel
Arriving at the theatre early, I was met by a sight that could only be describes as a hybrid of a Dead/Phish concert, the line for Stones tickets the night before they go on sale, and the registration cue for an engineering conference. Douglas Adams has apparently touched a lot more lives than I had suspected.
I’ve been a huge Hitchhiker fan since reading the first book as a teenager. I’ve since passed the torch along to the next generation of Cards, both of whom have read and reread the “trilogy” (there are five books and a short story. You figure it out) with equal enthusiasm and abandon.
I took the youngest Card with me to the screening. He had gotten hold of my press kit, and littered the showing with production details, like “did you know that the actor playing Marvin weighs 85 pounds, and the suit he’s wearing weighs 55 pounds, mostly because of the head? I’m waiting for him to fall over”.
Like all literary fans, I’m usually skeptical when movies are made from my favorite books, because Hollywood tends to “formulize” stories beyond recognition (recent case in point - “Sahara”). The only recent film adaptation I’ve been satisfied with lately is the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although not literarily pure, it captured the essence of the author’s original work. The same can be said of Hitchhiker, although, being somewhat of a niche film, it probably won’t get the critical acclaim, merchandising opportunities or gazillions of dollars that Rings got.
Another similarity that Hitchhiker has with Rings is that the cast seems cohesive. The Rings cast, having spent several years together, created bonds between them that are evident in the film. Likewise Hitchhiker. The cast fuses well, probably due somewhat to them all having been Hitchhiker fans prior to production. It’s also apparent that those behind the scenes were committed to put out a product that not only would represent the fruition of Adams’ dream, but would also do him proud.
This film adaptation is the long awaited culmination of Adams’ decade spanning dream. Those involved in the film claim that the film took so long to become reality because it was waiting for technology to catch up with Adams’ imagination.
From the opening credits, which feature dolphins in a Broadway Musical-style aquatic dance number singing “So long, and thanks for all the fish”, to the closing credits, which includes an old-school educational film vignette on the dangers of misunderstandings, as evidenced by the war between the G'gugvunts and the Vl'hurgs (Don’t leave the theatre as soon as the ending credits begin. The vignette is well worth the wait, but doesn’t start until the first closing credit song is over), this film accomplishes just that. It captures the look, feel and flavor of the book that first drew me into this strange universe and still hasn’t let me loose.