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Friday, June 03, 2005
 
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Ruined By Movie

I have a bad habit. I often lend books I bought to friends (they may or may not be close to me) who subsequently do not return them. Then, due to the fact that I lend so many of my books to "friends", I do not remember who has which book and thus I do not get them back. I used to have this beautiful, hard cover omnibus edition of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (consisting of the first four books in the "trilogy"), but I've somehow lost track of the book because at least one of my friends is a fucking asshole bastard sonofabitch.

The producers of the movie Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy have managed to take the idea of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and produced a movie that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the original Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Yes, I had to watch the show no matter what, because after all, I've only read the books 20 times at least. However, I strongly urge the rest of you, if you're fans of the series, to not watch the movie. You will be horrified and disgusted by it. As bloody-minded as I am, I wouldn't wish that movie on any Hitchhiker fan, because watching it was like having to sit through a 110-minute Vogon poetry recital. Believe me, it wasn't pretty.

I think the main thing that went wrong was that the movie forgot the wit. Remember the very beginning of the first book in the series, when Ford Prefect was trying to persuade Arthur Dent to go to the pub with him while Arthur was lying in front of the bulldozer? I bet one of the reasons why most of the people who picked up the book went on to read through the whole thing was because of the conversation between Ford and the demolition guy (Mr Prosser). If you do not know what I mean, go read the book. He made Mr Prosser lie down in the mud in place of Arthur while the ancestor of Mr Prosser, who happens to be Genghis Khan, bellowed with rage in some higher dimension of which we know nothing.

Now, I could have forgiven the show not showing the bellowing Genghis Khan part, but come on, the conversation between Ford and Mr Prosser was a classic. Instead of having Ford fast talk the bugger into lying down in the mud, the movie had Ford pass beers and peanuts around to the wrecking crew. Excuse me while I go flip the great Douglas Adams around in his grave a couple of times. Well, ok, so beers and peanuts are very British pub, but come on, where was the wit that made Hitchhiker legendary? I mean, that scene was like changing "Things My Girlfriend And I Have Argued About", a fine example of British humour, into my extremely slapstick Star Wars fiasco, which is just some dumb shit. Mind you, it was some pretty fucking funny dumb shit, but dumb shit nevertheless. Just for your comparison, here's the original dialogue between Ford Prefect and Mr Prosser.

Ford looked across to Mr Prosser, and suddenly a wicked thought struck him.

"He wants to knock your house down?"

"Yes, he wants to build ..."

"And he can't because you're lying in front of the bulldozers?"

"Yes, and ..."

"I'm sure we can come to some arrangement," said Ford. "Excuse me!" he shouted.

Mr Prosser (who was arguing with a spokesman for the bulldozer drivers about whether or not Arthur Dent constituted a mental health hazard, and how much they should get paid if he did) looked around. He was surprised and slightly alarmed to find that Arthur had company.

"Yes? Hello?" he called. "Has Mr Dent come to his senses yet?"

"Can we for the moment," called Ford, "assume that he hasn't?"

"Well?" sighed Mr Prosser.

"And can we also assume," said Ford, "that he's going to be staying here all day?"

"So?"

"So all your men are going to be standing around all day doing nothing?"

"Could be, could be ..."

"Well, if you're resigned to doing that anyway, you don't actually need him to lie here all the time do you?"

"What?"

"You don't," said Ford patiently, "actually need him here."

Mr Prosser thought about this.

"Well no, not as such...", he said, "not exactly need ..." Prosser was worried. He thought that one of them wasn't making a lot of sense.

Ford said, "So if you would just like to take it as read that he's actually here, then he and I could slip off down to the pub for half an hour. How does that sound?"

Mr Prosser thought it sounded perfectly potty.

"That sounds perfectly reasonable," he said in a reassuring tone of voice, wondering who he was trying to reassure.

"And if you want to pop off for a quick one yourself later on," said Ford, "we can always cover up for you in return."

"Thank you very much," said Mr Prosser who no longer knew how to play this at all, "thank you very much, yes, that's very kind ..." He frowned, then smiled, then tried to do both at once, failed, grasped hold of his fur hat and rolled it fitfully round the top of his head. He could only assume that he had just won.

"So," continued Ford Prefect, "if you would just like to come over here and lie down ..."

"What?" said Mr Prosser.

"Ah, I'm sorry," said Ford, "perhaps I hadn't made myself fully clear. Somebody's got to lie in front of the bulldozers haven't they? Or there won't be anything to stop them driving into Mr Dent's house will there?"

"What?" said Mr Prosser again.

"It's very simple," said Ford, "my client, Mr Dent, says that he will stop lying here in the mud on the sole condition that you come and take over from him."

"What are you talking about?" said Arthur, but Ford nudged him with his shoe to be quiet.

"You want me," said Mr Prosser, spelling out this new thought to himself, "to come and lie there ..."

"Yes."

"In front of the bulldozer?"

"Yes."

"Instead of Mr Dent."

"Yes."

"In the mud."

"In, as you say it, the mud."

As soon as Mr Prosser realized that he was substantially the loser after all, it was as if a weight lifted itself off his shoulders: this was more like the world as he knew it. He sighed.

"In return for which you will take Mr Dent with you down to the pub?"

"That's it," said Ford. "That's it exactly."

Mr Prosser took a few nervous steps forward and stopped.

"Promise?"

"Promise," said Ford. He turned to Arthur.

"Come on," he said to him, "get up and let the man lie down."

Arthur stood up, feeling as if he was in a dream.

Ford beckoned to Prosser who sadly, awkwardly, sat down in the mud. He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it. The mud folded itself round his bottom and his arms and oozed into his shoes.

Ford looked at him severely.

"And no sneaky knocking down Mr Dent's house whilst he's away, alright?" he said.

"The mere thought," growled Mr Prosser, "hadn't even begun to speculate," he continued, settling himself back, "about the merest possibility of crossing my mind."

He saw the bulldozer driver's union representative approaching and let his head sink back and closed his eyes. He was trying to marshal his arguments for proving that he did not now constitute a mental health hazard himself. He was far from certain about this - his mind seemed to be full of noise, horses, smoke, and the stench of blood. This always happened when he felt miserable and put upon, and he had never been able to explain it to himself. In a high dimension of which we know nothing the mighty Khan bellowed with rage, but Mr Prosser only trembled slightly and whimpered. He began to fell little pricks of water behind the eyelids. Bureaucratic cock-ups, angry men lying in the mud, indecipherable strangers handing out inexplicable humiliations and an unidentified army of horsemen laughing at him in his head - what a day.

What a day. Ford Prefect knew that it didn't matter a pair of dingo's kidneys whether Arthur's house got knocked down or not now.

Arthur remained very worried.

"But can we trust him?" he said.

"Myself I'd trust him to the end of the Earth," said Ford.


About all that remained of that was Ford saying that he'd trust them to the end of the Earth. I bullshit you not.

If you've read the book, you may also remember that the Nutri-Matic machine on the Heart of Gold produced a drink that was "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea". Yes, my using that turn of phrase in the second paragraph of this post was not only a diss to the makers of the fucking movie, but also a homage to the late Douglas Adams. How the fuck did that phrase turn into Trillian mouthing some inane bullshit like "I forgot to tell you that it only looks like tea". I mean, what the fuck?

And what's the fucking idea behind turning the whole farce into this big love story between Trillian and Arthur? And digital watches weren't even mentioned! What the fuck? I can just imagine the arguments between the money and the artists (directors, scriptwriters, etc) behind this movie.

Artist dudes (A): Yeah, and that's it.
Money dudes (M): Dude, that needs more CGI scenes. La-dee-da-dee-da *munches on numbnuts*
A: Well, ok, I guess we could show some surreal scenes of the Heart of Gold while it is using the Infinite Improbability Drive.
M: No, no, those are fine. Look, why don't we have a scene where Zaphod, Arthur and Ford are walking around and then stuff keeps jumping out of the ground to smack them in their faces? Wouldn't that be a hoot in a funny movie like this? Doo-be-doo-be-doo *taps own bonehead*
A: What? What the hell purpose would that serve? That's not even in the book?
M: Trust me, I know what sells movies, I've been in this industry before Douglas Adams was born.
A: Well, ok, you're the boss.
M: And let's have a token black guy play Ford Prefect. Because blacks look more like aliens. I mean, because we need to show people that this show isn't racist.
A: *sighs in resignation*
M: And make Trillian fall in love with Arthur.
A: But that did not happen in the book!
M: Whatever, romance makes a movie interesting. Tried and tested.
A: GAH! *starts tearing out hair*
M: And make Zaphod dumber. Because dumb = wild and crazy.
A: *foams at mouth*

Odds are that the money dudes have probably never even read the books. Seriously, if you're a fan of the books, give the fucking movie a miss. If you're intelligent but haven't read the books, go buy the books. They're definitely more worth spending on than tickets for this fucked up movie. If your IQ is below 80, go watch it. You'll find it hilarious.

I'll do the Big Fuck's Super Pow-Ka-Leow Meme tomorrow. Meanwhile, you guys go take a look at that post. It's cool, and a damn sight funnier than the Hitchhiker movie.
 
Comments:
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
What interesting words by Mr. Adams!

I think Hollywood directors will foam at the mouth if you ask them to exclude romance from their "blockbusters".

Those are commonly labelled "indie films".
 
Hopefully, Batman won't turn out as bad..
 
wah. you make it sound really damn bad. is it really THAT jia lat?

hmm. maybe i shouldn't watch it then. i can't stand it when books that get made into movies get fucked up along the transition. it drives me nuts.

i mean, how difficult can it be?! the script's already there, for cryin out loud! how can you possibly screw it up?! BUT! hollywood always has a way, so it seems. dammit.

and besides. i don't think i can take another dissapointment after star wars ROTS. heh.

thanks for the heads up, dude :)
 
Sid: I've just about given up on movie adaptations.

Eileen: Yes, it was damned bad. If you're a fan of the books, don't waste your money.
 
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