When I first got into low-budget movies, I figured that despite all their other faults, they would at least have strong screenplays because that’s one thing you could get right without cost. Boy was I naive! Also: on this day, 29 April, in 2005, the big-budget cinematic version of Douglas Adams’ book was released, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
It seems that what it takes to sit in your room for months crafting a screenplay is not what it takes to get a film made. That means that a lot of films go into production with poor scripts. And thank God for that! I’d rather have the films than see young would-be filmmakers die alone in their rooms for lack of Vitamin D.
Why Hitchhiker Is Just Fine
And that brings me to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The screenplay isn’t bad. And the film was fine. It worked well enough. And that seems to be what everyone else thought. No one demanded their money or time back. Most two-hour periods are worse than the two hours I spent with it.
But given all the talent and creativity that went into the film, why was it just fine? I think the answer to this is simple: the source material wasn’t that great.
I’ll admit: I came to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy late — a couple of years after all my nerdy friends were raving about it. And I did not get it. I could see that it was meant to be funny. But it was filled with the kinds of jokes that people with poor senses of humor find hysterical.
My theory is that no one ever found the books funny. Instead, they thought them “clever” and thought they would like to be the kind of people who they suspected would find such things funny.
So 15 years ago today we got this film. And it’s fine. It really is. I wouldn’t mind watching it again.
But you know what I can’t take? Good Omens. I got about five minutes into it and I realized they were doing that same kind of comedy and I stopped. And that seems to be the ultimate legacy of Douglas Adams: that kind of comedy where just in case the jokes don’t work the teller is going to do it really intensely.
But the movie? Fine.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy poster via Wikipedia under Fair Use.