Some of us have been waiting decades for Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s trilogy to make it to the big screen. That made it hard to maintain anything remotely resembling journalistic detachment when I talked with the one of the film’s executive producers, Robbie Stamp on February 18, 2005 when he was in San Francisco for WonderCon. We discussed the long, strange journey that the project has taken since first being optioned in 1982, the necessity of having a budget that is neither too small nor too large, and the worst part of not having Adams around anymore.
I am one of those slavish devotees of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker Trilogy who can, as a result of manic bouts of reading (the books), watching (the BBC television series) and listening (to the original incarnation produced by BBC radio) recite vast swaths of text. It’s a skill that provokes delight in some, consternation in others, and a puzzled sort of indifference in most. It is, however, a skill that did not serve me well as I watched the long anticipated cinematic version.
It all starts out so well, the toe-tapping mock show tune in which the dolphin explain why they left the Earth, followed by our introduction to Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman plunging heroically into the realms of the rumpled and bemused), failing to make it down his own stairs unscathed and blithely unaware as he burns his toast for the last time, this it is, in fact, the last time. Soon he will be swept away in his pajamas and bathrobe from certain death by his best pal, Ford Prefect (a perhaps too laid-back Mos Def), who, as it turns out, isn’t from Guildford, but rather from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse.