The rules of survival are found in just one ‘Guide’ | VailDaily.com
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The rules of survival are found in just one ‘Guide’

Shauna Farnell
Special to the Daily Ford Prefect (Mos Def), center, and Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), right, find themselves forced to listen to Vogon poetry in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
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There have been multitudes of term papers written dissecting the work of Douglas Adams, but in the end, the going theory seems to be that he’s a guy who just wants to be Monty Python.Those who love the Monty Python films will probably like “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Considering that the film itself – the ninth version after the book, radio and TV series, record album, stage performance, comic book, computer game and towel, was written by Adams, including a part exclusively designed for John Malkovich. Thus, Adams’ fans will not be disappointed. However. Those who are not followers might be a little baffled.

I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I haven’t read “Hitchhiker’s Guide,” but I was sure to see the film with someone who crosses her heart for Adams every night and knows every piece of trivia about the guy, such as how he died unexpectedly while running on a treadmill while in the middle of his screenplay for “Hitchhiker’s Guide.” This was all news to me, and nonfollower that I am, baffled as I was, I loved the film in the same way I love “The Dark Crystal,” “Return of the Jedi” or any other film involving fantastical hairy creatures.”Hitchhiker’s Guide” might not have as much laugh-out-loud appeal as “Meaning of Life,” but it explores the meaning of life in a similar, brilliantly ridiculous fashion.Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is an average British tea drinker who looks slightly less attractive in his pajamas, which he gets stuck wearing throughout the film after his house and earth along with it are destroyed by aliens, than he would in his typical daily attire. We don’t really know what Arthur does for work or why he lives in a house in the middle of nowhere in one of England’s agricultural regions, but one gets the idea that he is painfully average. One telling incident is a costume party he attends as Dr. Livingston. He meets an exciting woman dressed as Abraham Lincoln with whom he doesn’t leap at the opportunity to take a spontaneous trip to Madagascar. He subsequently loses her to a long-haired Southerner who obviously has a wild side that can be tapped into a bit more readily. Arthur’s rather uneventful life is rudely shaken shortly thereafter when bulldozers run by mortals arrive to flatten his house for an expressway. The shaking only gets more intense as he goes for a drink at the local pub with his friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def), whose ramblings of galactic meltdowns and extraterrestrial life forms have given him the reputation of being a little bit nuts.

Prefect is the only one who knows that the world is about to be obliterated, so he takes his friend Arthur and hitches a ride with his special thumb laser onto a spacecraft right before the demolition takes place. The two are captured on board by Vogons, the alien race of bureaucrats that don’t move forward without the proper paperwork. They are removing earth in order for comfortable traveling on an intergalactic expressway that is in the works. After the Vogons subject Prefect and Dent to their bad poetry, considered in “The Guide” to be one of the worst forms of torture known to cognitive life forms, the earthlings are spat into space to fend for themselves. Despite their minimal odds for survival in orbit (30 seconds, according to “The Guide”), they slip into another spaceship which, as it turns out, has been hijacked by two-faced (as in, he’s literally got two faces) galaxy president Zaphod Beeblebbrox and his girlfriend, Trillian, who happen to be the pair Dent met at the costume party. Also accompanying the group is Marvin, the clinically depressed robot. Sound absurd? It is! And that’s without even getting into “The Guide’s” special accessories like the Point of View gun, the Deep Thought oracle and the whale plummeting from space.

This is a film with big-time cult appeal. It holds the same random sense of magic as “A Clockwork Orange,” “The Never Ending Story” and “Labyrinth” but with an imagination full of all different machines and fun house mirror reflections. Vail, Colorado


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