I have wanted to see this movie since I first saw the poster. I don’t remember when that was, but it feels like forever.
I have read the books. However, it was a very long time ago, so I don’t remember how many details were straight from the book(s) and how many were re-interpreted. I can say it definitely stayed true to the spirit of the books. The singing dolphins have been stuck in my head ever since. “So long, so long, and thanks for all the fish…”
First, a word on the casting. As soon as I knew Martin Freeman was taking the role of Arthur Dent I knew it was going to be gold. His face is remarkably good at being human, and I think that’s what makes him such a great choice for movies/shows where he is the “human” character. Here, he is literally the human in an adventure filled with aliens. In The Hobbit movies he is, of course, not a human, but if we had to pick the most human character, it would probably be Bilbo. No real thirst for lore and treasures, a decidedly relatable desire to eat in peace, and general befuddlement at the mythical wonders surrounding him are all much more human qualities than running off on treasure hunts and actively seeking out dragons and elves and all that. Plus, as Dr. Watson he is often held in contrast to Sherlock, who is decidedly not quite “human” in his emotions and lifestyle.
Sam Rockwell as the illustrious President of the Universe was also a great choice. Personally I don’t have any connection to the actor. I just knew who it was the instant, the frame he appeared. That’s a great choice.
The other voices and supporting characters were all pretty well cast, I think. Could there have been better choices? Maybe, but I don’t have any suggestions. It all worked together in a fabulous, disorienting, and absurd adventure.
My other favorite thing was the extreme “bureaucracy” of the Vogons. At once obsessed with paperwork and justice, of being important and having a full hour lunch break… they were fabulous.
And, of course, the other characters were equally absurd and fantastic. Poor Marvin had to trudge through life perpetually depressed (and not actually alive), Trillian thought she wanted adventure when really she just wanted a home, the mice are darting about like the mad little scientists they are, and all of these contrasts really round out the story.
I enjoyed this movie immensely, as I did the books, but it’s definitely one of those stories that’s not for everyone. It is a rather special cup of tea.