Friday, February 12, 2010

So Long...and Thanks for All the Fish

Well friends, its been a helluva week here in town.  We had two snow days this week, Tuesday and Wednesday, and this was following a three day weekend where we had a snow day last Friday...so we've had a lot of time off recently in our district.  In fact, Tuesday and Wednesday were like having a second weekend right after Monday.  It was nice, I'll admit...but at the same time I got really bored as Wednesday waned into evening and I was concerned about pretty much being now a week behind in my lessons (Monday we didn't get to quiz what they'd read since last Thursday because it was a guidance counselor visit day).  I guess I can't complain much, it just means that its one less week to plan in the long run.  However, I know understand why my mother used to get so bored on snow days when I was a kid (she was a teacher and a principal).  Things were downright dull.  I got out of the house on Tuesday for a bit to go to the store, took about an hour I'd say, and then Weds. I just sat around not moving.  Jacques Pierre was also off school those days so we got to talk a bit...I found out that he's got a pseudo-date with Bond this Sunday.  I'm excited for them and I kinda hope that it blossoms into something, that way I don't lose friends to some stranger that they're dating.  Of course, if it turns into something and fizzles, then I've got a new issue to deal with.  Oh well, take it as it comes I guess.  BTW, if JP or Bond reads this and wants it removed...I will do so.

So, while some of you may have read today's title and started silently giggling to yourself others of you may have no Earthly idea what that title means and are scratching your heads.  Well, in honor of finally starting the book that spawned said line above, I decided to rematch the film version of it that was made last decade much to the anticipation (and then utter dismay) of loyal fans of Douglas Adams.  Yes, I refer to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...one of the best selling and most well known pieces of British comedy ever known.  Even if you haven't read the books, seen the original TV series, or heard the original radio show, you've probably heard the title as it is often thrown around in reverence when referring to comedy genius...much like the name Monty Python.  Hitchhiker is much less crude than Monty however, and weird with a point rather than being weird for the sake of doing so which I believe makes it more accessible.  But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...some of you still have no idea what I'm talking about.  So let me enlighten you with the plot.

Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) is an average British man who awakes one morning to find that there are bulldozers at his doorstep preparing to demolish his house.  They say that it must be knocked down to make way for a new expressway that cuts right through his property (the also say that the plans for the demolition have been on display for months in the planning offices and he should have lodged a complaint months ago...even though no one informed him).  To add further complications to his day, Arthur learns that his best-friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def) isn't really from Earth but rather from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse and who is on assignment writing to the bestselling book "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".  And it is Ford who tells Arthur that the planet must be evacuated because a Vogon destructor fleet is coming to blow it up to make route for a new hyperspace bypass.  And all of this is just the beginning to Arthur's bad day as he is suddenly whisked away on an adventure with Ford, Trillian or Tricia MacMillian (Zooey Deschanel) a girl he once met at a party, Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) the President of the Galaxy, and Marvin (voiced by Alan Rickman) a manically-depressed robot.  Oh, and if all that sounds very strange 'Don't Panic'...as the guide says...it only gets weirder.

I loved this film upon first viewing...it was madcap and witty and featured wonderful non-sequitors that interrupted the plot and gave you a real glimpse into what made the book so popular as a comic work.  I had never read the books at this point and was getting a fresh look, so I was surprised when there was such a backlash toward the film.  Many compared it to what was called the 'superior' adaptation, the TV miniseries in 1981, and the novel itself.  They said that changes were made that were not canon and that the characterizations of the actors couldn't have been more wrong.  I heartily disagree having now finished the first book and viewing the TV series (which I thought was absolute dreck).  While the film does change around the order of some things in the story and it adds things that were never seen before in the books, it still presents everything that is present in the novel...and in some ways I think it actually does it better.  I can hear Hitchhikers everywhere calling foul, but seriously...the central plot isn't really revealed until the last pages of the book (and part of that is due to the brilliance of Adams of course, he liked to not make sense).  But in a film, you have to know what everyone is working towards otherwise its just people mucking about in space with no point.  Also, the additions to the story where done by Adams himself before he died, so one cannot really say that he didn't wish it to be there.  As for canon, the story has changed in every incarnation that it has taken on from radio, to book, to tv, and now to film.  There is no canon, except that which the fans make up in their own minds.  So, if you stayed away from this film the first time around because of mixed reviews or because it bombed...you really ought to try it out now that its on video.  Its a hilarious movie and is great for a cold winter day.  Oh...and just so you know: the film and book explain that humans are only the 3rd most intelligent beings on Earth, the second being dolphins.  The dolphins tried to warn the humans that destruction was coming, but all their warnings were misinterpreted as elaborate Sea World-like tricks.  The last message they tried to convey, while interpreted as a spectacular stunt, really meant "So long, and thanks for all the fish."  So now you know.

2 comments:

Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish said...

The answer is 42!

Paul Edward Fetherolf said...

It's been a while since I saw this. I remember thinking that the dialogue had an odd pacing, at least for comedy. The beats that emphasize punchlines and one-liners weren't there. Maybe it was meant to be more naturalistic?

That aside, the movie is beautiful. And there's no such thing as Hitchiker's canon. It started as a radio series, for heaven's sake. Each version of the story has been different, and I think for Adam Douglas that was sort of the point.