Don’t panic: H2G2 exceeds expectations.

The short version: the new Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film is aweome. Wally got a free pass for two to a sneak preview at the Commons tonight, and I got to tag along.
The long version: H2G2 captures the spirit of the book/radio play/TV miniseries pretty much perfectly (with various homages to the latter two subtly inserted). It’s not identical to the ‘original’ — though to be fair the ‘original’ is three different things anyway — but it hits the pitch perfectly, and the additions only add to the humor and the mood. The humor is perfect, the cast is perfect, the writing is perfect, the execution is… well, it’s pretty much perfect. In fact, the film does a lot to underscore many of the themes of the books so easily glossed over when you’re speed-reading through ’em (being as they are such fast reads): the evils of bureaucracy, the importance of conservation, and the underlying silliness and inanity of progress and of humans taking themselves so seriously. It’s classic Adams stuff, but the film made me realize for the first time the thematic connections between the Guide and Last Chance To See, Adams’s travelogue of tracking down endagered animals. When Trillian offhandedly quips that she and Arthur are and ‘endangered species,’ it was like a lightbulb turning on for me. Last Chance suddenly didn’t seem like a departure anymore.
Though it’s a thoroughly and genuinely funny film all the way through, the Guide manages a surprising measure of real poignancy. The love story — not at all a part of the original(s) — is interleaved and carried of brilliantly. But perhaps the most touching and affecting moment of the film is not romantic at all; rather, it is the scene in which Slartibartfarst take Arthur to the ‘factory floor’ of the Magrithean planet-building enterprise to show him the new Earth. It’s a beautiful scene, and Martin Freeman plays it not for humor but for honesty: he looks just like one would imagine a human being would look if faced with such unbelievable circumstances. It’s lovely.
As the film settles in with me, I may feel compelled to write more; in the meantime, go see it when it opens. You won’t be disappointed, I promise. If you’re at all like me, you’ll leave with a huge grin plastered across your face, and warm thoughts about how great Douglas Adams was. And he was. Great.

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