So long, and thanks for all the decibels |

So long, and thanks for all the decibels

The problem with “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is all the cool stuff gets lost – not in space, but in all the noise.If you find that hard to believe after seeing the trailer and its sneak preview of all the dazzling computer animation, you should probably know that the movie is indeed that loud. What might be surprising is the worst of it doesn’t come from the typical space-opera stuff – rocket engines, laser blasters and alien gibberish. After all, Douglas Adams’ books offered more philosophical discourse than action. But the movie version raises the decibel level of that chatter to a din that almost drowned out my desire to keep watching.The worst offender is Sam Rockwell, who plays galactic President Zaphod Bebblebrox as a three-armed, two-headed and one-note George Dubya impression with the volume cranked to 10. The only way Martin Freeman can make everybloke hero Arthur Dent audible is to follow suit. The resulting din of Rockwell, Freeman, and an assortment of terrestrial and alien creatures practically mutes the two best performances, by Zooey Deschanel and Mos Def. (I should be able to make a joke about Mos Def’s name here, but I can’t imagine what that might be.)During the rare moments when the shrieking lets up, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide” makes sight gags out of Adams’ lighthearted theorizing on heavy epistemological discussion, as well as some clever animation the author might have only been able to dream of when he wrote the book. The guidebook in the title offers some of the best of those and is best at calming the movie down and tying its chaotic plot together.When the guidebook flips open – like a travel guide covering the void between a laptop and PDA – the movie becomes pretty tolerable, and it does so again for a breathtaking animated sequence toward the end. But soon, Rockwell resumes jabbering, Freeman yells back at him, and off the movie goes to jam an epic romp into a few hours. There’s too much ground – or space – to cover, and that pace is far too frenetic to enjoy.It’s really too bad, too, because “Hitchhiker’s Guide” nails the tough part, bringing Adams’ visions and scope to life and into the 21st century. It falls short where other movies have succeeded, in making an entertaining movie out of esoteric ideas.It’s probably a stretch to call Adams’ books sane, rational discussions on philosophy, but the jabbering cacophony of this “Hitchhiker’s Guide” almost led me out of the theater.

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