So, Saturday was a big day for me, between the very wet Revlon Run/Walk, room painting at my sister's house, and being a general cranky pants for having to wake up early on a Saturday. As such, I rewarded myself by going to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Kate also saw it this weekend, and we had a long talk about it, so bear in mind that some of my comments are stolen from her (as usual).
I would say that my opinion of the movie was middling, at best. I found it enjoyable, and felt that what they did right was quite excellent. On the other hand, I walked away feeling like a book such as Hitchhiker's does not translate well to a film. It certainly wasn't the most disappointing adaptation that I've seen (I'm relatively certain that Seabiscuit fills those shoes), but it could have been better. Kate, on the other hand, really disliked it.
First, what they did well. Mos Def was an inspired choice to play Ford Prefect - he was the perfect combination of quirky and cool, and I just can't imagine a better selection. Martin Freeman was also a nice choice as Arthur. The effects and set design were dead on and really well done. It was wise to have a narrator and the animated segments that dealt with the actual Guide were a smart device, and also included some of the funnier parts of the film. Also, Henson's Creature Shop did an amazing job with the grotesque and sluglike Vogons.
Kate didn't like the personification of Marvin, but I thought the Paranoid Android looked great. And Alan Rickman was predictably funny as the morose voice of Marvin. I also really enjoyed Helen Mirren's small part as the voice of Deep Thought. The few parts where I laughed out loud were usually attributed to her (I may have been the only person who laughed out loud when she shushes Zaphod because her television show is back on... but that has more to do with my former roommate and her sister.).
As for what I didn't like. Number one with a bullet, definitely Zooey Deschanel as Trillian. She was entirely the wrong choice. Trillian, in my opinion, is probably the least developed or interesting character in the book, but what we do know about her is that she's very smart and rather bitchy. And a little immoral. She most certainly wouldn't get huffy about the earth being blown up. Granted, sci fi writers have a tendency to make all their female characters saints or sluts, and it wouldn't bother me if Trillian in the movie were better developed. But movie Trillian is just annoying and not remotely developed as anything other than the doe-eyed love interest of Martin Freeman's Arthur Dent. And don't get me started on the cheesy love story which was tossed in there.
And as Kate pointed out, it definitely felt like the overarching themes of the book were lost in the saccharine ending.
I'm really curious what someone who has never read the book thought about the movie. If you saw the movie without reading the book, do let me know.