British media can be a fickle creature for those not used to its quirks. For the unwary, British humor especially can come off as odd, as newcomers to Monty Python or Dr. Who can attest. These shows are still considered classics in their own way, however, and they are not alone when it comes to quirky British comedies crossing the pond.
In 1978 Douglas Adams unleashed The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as a radio program upon the British airwaves. The satirical work gained an audience and a following. The story followed a regular Brit as he finds himself stumbling into the wider galaxy with the sort of expression that can best be described as “I need another gin and tonic.” The story is littered with satire and humor so dry you want to offer it a cough drop.
Thanks to the success of the broadcast and Adams being a writer, the story would be expanded and brought to multiple forms of media. In 1981 the Guide became a TV Series, or rather a mini-series for those of us not used to British television. There was also a video game in 1984, since everything was a video game in the ‘80’s despite the best efforts of E.T.. Then, in 1985, the five or six part trilogy got its start.
The latest interpretation of Adams’ work is the 2005 film The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Rather than create a film for each portion of the trilogy, the film instead follows the first book with a few nods to the others in the series.
The film manages to retain the humor of the books, adding a touch of visual slapstick along with the dry sense of British humor and satire that remain the core point of the movie. Thanks to the big screen, the film comes across very well and very funny, with jokes about paperwork and literary criticism flowing perfectly along with the old rake to the face gag.
Granted, that sort of humor isn’t for everyone. The mix of humor styles, however, help ensure there’s something funny to be found by just about anyone who watches the movie. At its core, the Guide is satire, and delightful satire at that. Fans of satirical comedy are pretty much guaranteed to enjoy the film as long as they like science fiction. Fans of British comedy, science fiction, and fans of the book itself are also likely to enjoy the film.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide is a fun-filled ride of humor, catastrophe, romance, and humor. Yes, I know I said humor twice. I like humor. Granted, the film may tone down the satire for the sake of flow, but such is the case of adapting a book into a movie. Still relatively faithful to the work of Adams, liberties were taken, again due to the nature of adapting a book into a film.
All told, though, the movie remains a fun ride of satirical comedy and science fiction shenanigans that are a delight to watch.