Touchstone and Beyond: A History of Disney’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

For our last globetrotter experience we take a journey that spans the cosmos with 2005’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Fans of the Douglas Adams books will form their own opinion about the film, but for me having never read any of the source material, I am jumping onboard with an open mind.

The Plot

Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is not doing much with his life. While fighting to save his house from destruction, his friend Ford Prefect (Yasiin Bey A.K.A. Mos Def), warns him that the world is about to be destroyed. Ford saves Arthur and they hitch a ride on a Vogon spaceship. This is the same group that destroyed the Earth to make way for a galactic hyperspace route.

Earth’s destruction is a shock to Arthur and after being captured by the Vogon’s and then dropped into space, life is a fleeting short existence for Arthur and Ford until they are picked up by the Heart of Gold, a spaceship flown by Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) and Trillian (Zooey Deschanel). Trillian, another resident of Earth whom Arthur had met at a party only a few weeks ago is special to him. The two hit it off at the party but Arthur never followed through on the relationship. Focusing on his regret of the lost chance with Trillian, Arthur has little time to wallow in his misery as the ship and his safety are yet again put in danger because of Zaphod’s antics.

Spinning through the cosmos with Ford, Trillian, Zaphod and a depressed robot named Marvin (Alan Rickman), Arthur is given time to reflect on the life that he lived and regret for all the missed opportunities that he let slip through his hands. A better life is possible for Arthur if he could start over. Based on his journey with Zaphod, Ford, and Trillian, the possibilities are endless.

Cinematic Compliments

I have never read any of the source material that the movie is based on, and viewers will enjoy the film without any knowledge of the characters. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a funny lark with wildly hilarious characters who travel the galaxy. On this journey you will meet aliens who are just as awful about the need for paperwork, and the president of the galaxy is just as vain as a teenager. One doesn’t need to think too hard to laugh along with Arthur and his friends.

Cinematic Complaints

If you are looking for a straightforward sci-fi action flick, then this isn’t the film for you. To be honest while I was laughing along at the film, I wasn’t sure what I was laughing at or if I should care about the characters. If this sort of description is off putting, then The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is not the film for you.

Fun Film Facts

  • This film is the ninth adaptation of the story written by Douglas Adams. The story has been found in a radio series, books, movies, television, and even computer games.
  • Warwick Davis was the physical body to Marvin.
  • Stephen Fry voices the narrator of the story.
  • Author Douglas Adams’ face appears as one of the images when the Heart of Gold ship uses the improbability drive.
  • Bill Murray and Ivan Reitman almost filmed their own version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. They opted to join Dan Aykroyd in making Ghostbusters.
  • Prior to Douglas Adams death, the movie was almost made with Hugh Laurie as Arthur and Jim Carrey as Zaphod. The plans fell apart and the actors went their separate ways.
  • The all-knowing computer Deep Thought is voiced by Dame Helen Mirren.
  • Director Edgar Wright has a cameo in the film.
  • Simon Jones, who played Arthur Dent in 1981’s television version of the story plays the head in the holo message at Magrathea.
  • Douglas Adams died on May 11, 2001. While he wasn’t alive to see the finished product, he contributed to the story extensively.
  • The film is not meant to be a faithful adaptation of the book. The producers were looking at creating a movie that embodied the overall themes of the book.
  • Director Garth Jennings provides the voice for one of the mice in the film. (Yup there are talking mice)

The Golden Popcorn Bucket Award

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy gets a 2 Golden Popcorn Bucket rating. It’s funny to watch and the actors are fantastic, but the film is easily forgotten a week after viewing.

While it was a box office success, and a critical rating of 65% on Rotten Tomatoes, I feel like I need to invest in reading the original works to truly enjoy the film.

Coming Attractions

Award season is just around the corner, and before we can celebrate the award winners of this year, we need to look back at the past award winners and contenders from the Touchstone Pictures library. First up for our ‘Award Season’ retrospective is 1986’s The Color of Money. Paul Newman finally gets an Academy Award.

Production Credits

Directed by Garth Jennings

Produced by Touchstone Pictures/ Spyglass Entertainment

Starring:

  • Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent
  • Zooey Deschanel as Trillian
  • Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) as Ford Prefect
  • Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox
  • Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin

Release Date: April 29, 2005

Budget: $50 million

Box Office Gross

Domestic: $51,085,416

Worldwide Total: $104,478,416