Notes From The Back Row 

The state of the Galaxy, the Union and Costner

Maybe I just didn’t get it but I’m not a fan of Douglas Adams’s novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Yeah, I know, it’s a classic but it came off a bit too snide for me, more of a form of literary masturbation than anything else. So it’s no surprise that I’m not in love with the movie adaptation either.

Opening Friday, The Hitchhiker’s Guide… tells the tale of Arthur Dent, an English everyman who’s saved by his buddy (an alien) just moments before the earth is destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Arthur hops a space ship and journeys out into a universe of total lunacy as he and an assortment of characters (including a robot played by Warwick Davis, who really shone in Leprechaun in tha ‘Hood ) seek the "Ultimate Question," the answer to which, we’re told, is 46.

Chock full of interesting and unexpected visuals The Hitchhiker’s Guide… will no doubt be a hit with fans of the book. The wry sarcasm and two billion in-jokes are all there. But in a universe where anything can (and does) happen, how are we supposed to be expected to really give a shit about what happens to our characters? Arthur Dent seems to be a passive observer more than a participant in the film so the viewer/character emotional link is missing.

Plus, even though this movie is totally all over the place, the romance sub-plot between Arthur Dent and super hottie Trilian (Zooey Deschanel) still manages to seem out of place and crappy. The actual guide entries are the best part of the film and while first-time director Garth Jennings works well with the script (written by Adams himself,) the editing is too fast and frantic and you can tell he’s a music video director.

While it is a nice satire on bureaucratic idiocy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide comes off as a cluster of comedy sketches that lack momentum and never add up to a complete movie. It’s mostly just nonsense, but for a movie looking for the meaning of life, that’s probably the point.

Also opening on Friday is XXX: State of the Union a sequel in which Ice Cube (no longer babysitting kids and wasting our time) is a convict who’s turned into a secret agent with a license to do whatever it takes to waste more of our time. This movie is easy to review: Cars, explosions, guns, bombs, explosions, gadgets, chicks with big tits, explosions, the end. XXX is so over the top it plays as a parody on action movies more than an actual action movie. And no ladies, Vin Diesel is not in this film, so calm down.

Also opening Friday at the Village 8 is The Upside of Anger, a middle-aged suburban angst flick that wants to be profound and sentimental but is actually pretty lame except that Kevin Costner plays a has-been baseball player who seems to be just wandering through the picture wondering what happened to his life and career. It almost feels like a documentary at times. Maybe because Costner is a total has-been, even playing a baseball player, again. What happened to your career Kev? At least Robin Williams can blame that pesky coke problem, what’s your excuse?

The DVD of the week is Closer. It’s about how love dies and lies are the currency of the world and even if the truth shall set us free we’re still alone when we get there. It stars Natalie Portman as a stripper, Julia Roberts, Jude Law and the amazing Clive Owen who steals the Show. Closer , best date movie I’ve seen since Irreversible . Check ’em out.

AT VILLAGE 8 April 29-May 5: XXX: State of the Union; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Sin City; A Lot Like Love; Upside of Anger; Sahara; Kung Fu Hustle; Interpreter; Robots.

AT RAINBOW THEATRE April 29-May 5: Fever Pitch.

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