Everybody has, at one time or another, had something they absolutely adore crapped all over by Hollywood.
It could be a hobby or pastime (though I’m not entirely sure what the difference is), a job you love (though I’m not entirely sure they exist in this dimension), a TV show you covet or a book that influenced your entire life. Whatever it is, American cinema will have found a way to destroy it and, probably, destroy it in such a way that you find yourself hoping Lacuna inc is actually a real company who can save you from the horror you just witnessed (Though (and I swear I’ll stop using ‘though’ and brackets in a second) that would inevitably drop you into an existential nightmare as you revisit the craptastic ordeal time and time again like a technological version of Memento).
(Hello, by the way. I know I usually start these things by greeting you all in some hopelessly amusing fashion, but this was too important for me to waste time on pleasantries. I’ll act like a knob later. Maybe at the end.)
And, the awfulness may not be an entire film. It might just be the way, whatever it is that you love, is portrayed on screen. Like say, maybe, the thing that completes your life and finishes your sentences is a computer. How many times are they used in insanely improbable ways in movies? Ridiculous sound effects, preposterously over the top viruses (I’m looking at you Da Vinci virus), impossible things found on websites (‘Wait, we need a copy of the blueprints for the towns sewer systems circa 1923’, ‘Don’t panic, I just downloaded it off city hall’s website’) and just general nonsensical impossibilities (Leverage, Season 1, Episode 5, 40mins 3secs). And that’s without pointing out that no-one in Hollywood appears to use a fucking mouse.
But for me, the single worst atrocity in the history of the moving picture isn’t the cancellation of Firefly, the fact that Terminator 3 exists, or that scene in The Jackal where Bruce Willis french kisses a man (*shudder*).
Nope, as far as I’m concerned, the worst thing ever committed to celluloid (and, yes, I’m aware it probably isn’t celluloid anymore) is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film. (Just a quick point: if anyone said, or even thought, ‘what the hell is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?’ you get fuck off right now).
I won’t bore you with any of the details about why I consider the book to be the greatest work of literature ever, because we would be here all night and I would only end up punching you for not understanding. I’ll just skip right to the part where I explain why it’s the worst film ever conceived (and I’m including Gigli on the list).
See, I’m aware that Douglas Adams had a hand in the movie, and I’m aware that he made several amendments to this version of his creation, as he was wont to do, however having read the screenplay (Screenplay by Douglas Adams, Revisions by Karey Kirkpatrick 08/08/03 (2 years after he died)) there are things within the film that can only have been added in to appease some Hollywood bastard who obviously hadn’t read the book.
I’ll start with the last piece of dialogue in the film, as it doesn’t appear in the above mentioned screenplay, and causes me such aggravation that I’m always surprised that I don’t spontaneously combust upon hearing it.
"…..the restaurant is at the other end of the universe"
For anyone who’s ever read the books, seen the TV show or heard the radio plays, those words should grate like a rasp on your incisors. I know, Karey, I know, you had holes to fill and Douglas wasn’t there to hold your hand, but mentioning the actual, physical, end of the road kind of end to the universe? Really? How, in the name of everything I hold dear, would that have worked had someone been brain damaged enough to give you money to make a sequel? How would that have fit, in any way? Douglas liked to change things, sure, but not Milliways. Seriously: did you even read the books?
(I realise that this is just a fanboy rant, but I don’t get to do them very often, so humour me).
Next, let’s look at the relationship between Arthur and Trillian.
Actually,let’s not. It’s just too fucking horrible. Apparently, someone decided that having a film in which a man and a woman appear, that doesn’t contain a brutally ham-fisted, pathetic attempt at a love story, revealed using fuck awful dialogue (and I’m talking ‘Gone With the Wind’-esque fuck awful dialogue, jammed in at such a chafingly awkward angle it may as well have come with an onscreen subtitle that read ‘If we don’t put this in, the Americans won’t understand’), wouldn’t appeal to ‘the man on the street’.
And, the less said about a tiny light sabre that ‘toasts the bread as you cut it’, and a mind reading computer that knows what you’re craving and makes it for you, the better ("It’s a mind reading computer that analyses my brain to find out what I want and makes it for me!! How was I to know that 4 Kylie Minogues would use up the ships power reserves!?").
And the timing. Jesus, the timing. Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith should never be allowed anywhere near a movie camera again. Ever. Allowing them within 50ft of anything resembling a Panavision Genesis should be considered a war crime and should be punishable by, at the very least, 50 years in prison followed by a brutal execution. I mean, christ. The first conversation between Arthur and Mr Prosser was set to a jingly,
bright little tune that never really fucked off, and every single scene had the actors talking over each other and delivering dialogue so fast I felt like I was watching a very expensive Micro Machines advert (obscure reference. Sorry). Important scenes were rushed, lines were delivered with absolutely no thought or processing. Hammer and Tongs took one of the best loved pieces of science fiction and turned it into a fucking music video, and a fucking awful one at that.
And (4 paragraphs started with the word ‘And’, hmmm. Somewhere my English teacher is having a small seizure. Aah, happy days) the only actor who actually fit the character he was playing, and who played it really fucking well, was Sam Rockwell as Zaphod. Seriously, given better directors, and some time to actually get into character he’d be perfect. Actually, Sir Stephen Fry was utter perfection as the guide, but that piece of casting was a no-brainer and could have been done by a blind, illiterate coma patient, so is disqualified from the argument.
I like Martin Freeman, but not as Arthur. Mos Def as Ford must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but was shit, and Zooey, oh Zooey. You’re a lovely, lovely person and given a machine that could read my thoughts and make me whatever I was craving, I would make two of you for my own personal use, but as Trillian you just didn’t do it for me (actually that’s a gigantic fucking lie. That first scene with her in knee high socks and boxers. That was just yum, but the character was just too, I don’t know, American maybe). Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast must have looked good on paper, but was awful in practice, and his best line was shit all over by the sound effects department. And The Sheriff of Nottingham as Marvin should have been the single most fantastic piece of casting since, well, Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham, yet it somehow managed to be crap.
And (that’s 5. Hopefully he’s frothing at the mouth and writhing on the floor about now) some of the other casting was just downright bizarre.
Helen Mirren as Deep Thought? Kids as Lunkwill and Fook? Anna Chancellor as Questular Rontok? OK, so that last one shouldn’t count, but they managed to ruin any chance of it being a good character so Anna’s talent (yes, Anna. We’re on first name terms now) is ultimately wasted, therefore making her a bizarre choice. The part should have gone to someone pointless like, I don’t know, Bonnie Langford.
And (now I’m only doing to see if I can actually induce a heart attack. I don’t even have a sentence to follow).
I could go on and on, and could bitch all day about every little thing that was just utter tripe about that film, but I’ll stop there, lest I claw out my own brain to stop me remembering, and I’ll go away. I have letters to write to the government about getting new ‘stop Hammer and Tongs making films’ laws introduced.
Now, how do I get started?
‘Dear Mr and Mrs Prime Minister……’