I was fortunate enough not to have read the book in many years, so I wasn't concerned with what had been changed and what hadn't been in the book. All I saw was a damn good movie that wasn't as disjointed and unfunny as many reviews had led me to believe. In fact, I thought the narrative was damn well strung together, however they managed to do it, and it was still goddamn funny.
From the opening sequence, I could tell the movie was going to be true to the spirit and tone of the book. And it never really let me down. And it even got in a genius movie-specific joke involving orchestral stings and zoom-outs. I wish it had done more of those.
As for the characters, I don't remember how I might have imagined them, but I think the casting was perfect. Martin Freeman makes a good Everyman, Mos Def wavers between straight man and goofball effortlessly, Sam Rockwell is hilariously self-absorbed, Alan Rickman nails bored depression, and I want to take Zooey Deschanel home and
I imagine, to the casual viewer, that this movie may be like nothing else they have ever seen. It reminds me of how The Wizard of Oz must have seemed at first, almost a "What the hell is this?" Because Hitchhiker's Guide, having sprung from the mind of the great Douglas Adams, follows its own set of rules, a set of rules that are really not that far off from our own but merely heretofore unexplored tangents. Helpful excerpts from the Guide provide the necessary exposition in the guise of humor and animation. That doesn't make what actually happens any less bizarre or random or zany, but what's brilliant about both the book and the movie is that they treat these things as perfectly normal. The movie doesn't call attention to the zaniness or thrust it in your face. It just lets it be. I don't know, I wouldn't even call it zany. That's another one of those words the critics are tossing around.
Yes, there are things in the movie that were not in the book, but I could hardly tell. They're effortlessly integrated, and they serve to enhance the narrative the movie is telling, which is a slightly different narrative than the book was telling, which was a slightly different narrative than the radio series was telling.
I do have a criticism or two, but that's not what this review is about. This review is about telling you to ignore all the fucking criticisms and go see the goddamn movie. And stay for the credits, because there's an extra Guide segment during them.