Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”

Sorry, fans: Despite my earnest efforts, none of Douglas Adams's books have held my attention beyond the halfway point. Adams was a writer of many brilliant ideas that tended to burn out quickly. Take the dolphin material that opens this movie: Once you chuckle at the notion that dolphins are imperceptibly more intelligent than humans, all you're left with is the clever wordplay, which could kindly be called funny but not ha-ha funny. Though it includes a fair bit of Adams's narration (he wrote every draft except the final one), the film burns millions of dollars for every minute of screen time, so it understandably has little time for anything that isn't part of the plot, and there's a feeling that everything is rushing by at a breakneck pace, with barely a moment to glance at the many sight gags crammed into the background. Combine this with an unexpected cartoonishness – the shrillness of Joby Talbot's hyperactive score is nearly unbearable in the multiplex – and the film becomes more difficult to like the longer it plays.

But like it I did. I haven't laughed this much since the last Jason Schwartzman movie. Adams's cerebral goofiness is in full bloom, and the special effects realize his every impossible conceit, with special credit for the exceptionally well-done sequences illustrating the Hitchhiker's Guide itself. I loved Mos Def's facial contortions during the poetry reading, but as expected, Sam Rockwell stole the whole film in the most plum role, taking Zaphod's conceitedness and irresponsibility to exaggerated extremes. With its toss-everything-in-the-blender approach to comedy, including everything from sight gags to puns to clever wordplay to physical comedy to non sequitors to satire, there's enough here to appeal to every moviegoer no matter their comedic tastes. For such an expensive and eager-to-please movie, I just wish it had been more ha-ha funny.

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