April 30, 2005
BLOG: Following Tracks
One of the nice things about reaching a certain level of visibility as a blogger is that people you've never heard of link to you, and so just by checking your referrer logs you can stumble on interesting blogs. (I lost track of who was linking to me once I joined the massive, impersonal "Blogs for Bush" blogroll during the election).
The Frinklin and Fred Show seems to have a rather unique sense of humor, as you can see from these recent entries on eating popcorn with chopsticks and scented pencils. (Frinklin also links to an ecstatic, spoiler-filled review of the new Star Wars flick by director Kevin "Silent Bob" Smith).
Then, on a similar theme to the Star Wars fest, Matt Barr at New World Man (a Rush homage, I presume) says of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie:
I can't tell you how good it was. . . I had too much invested in it. I read the books when I was beginning my teen years, and they supplanted the Wrinkle In Time series as my favorite books.
If you collected X-Men comics when you were young, like I did, to the point where the numbers 94 and 137 mean something to you, you remember that when you saw the X-Men movies you couldn't really get a sense of how good or bad they were because they were, in their way, so faithful to what you were familiar with. Same with Hitchhiker's Guide. There's some new stuff, but they bent over backwards not to stray too far from the book. The sheer delight of watching something so "yours" from your youth come alive in a theater, right down to the bowl of petunias thinking "oh, no, not again" as it falls to the surface of Magrathea, is thrilling.
Put it this way. If you're my age, you remember how you felt when the score began and the words STAR WARS appeared on the screen at the beginning of Episode I. (That it was all downhill from there is immaterial.) Same deal.
I'd always heard about the Hitchhiker's Guide book, but never got around to reading it. Any opinions on whether (leaving aside the issue of persuading my wife to watch it) I should wait and read the book before seeing the movie?
UPDATE: I should add that, like Vodkapundit and Michele, I am getting very excited for the final Star Wars installment very much in spite of my better judgment, although I'm worried it may be a bit much to take the kids to despite the fact that they're dying to see it. Phantom Menace had its entertaining portions - particularly the scenes with Liam Neeson and the Darth Maul fight sequences - but it's hard to rewatch, due mainly to Jar Jar and those fish-face aliens with the Charlie Chan accents, as well as the unforgivable decision to turn The Force into a biological phenomenon. Attack of the Clones was better, and has been subjected to a lot of unfair criticism (although it too could have done without the fish-face guys), but it also had many disappointments, notably a display of Lucas' leaden touch with romance. Both films are better re-watched in spurts rather than trying to sit through the whole thing.
This one, though, really needs to have been done right. And I'm getting my hopes up that it has been.
The humor is very British. A couple gags work great. The rest is amusing. And my six year old really can't say enough about the singing dolphins.
I don't think you need to read the book first, but it's a quick read, and if you do, you might save yourself some time and money if you hate it. My wife didn't read the book and saw Fever Pitch with my stepdaughter, so yes, the wife could be a problem.
Just my preference, but I definitely recommend reading any book before watching a movie. LORT is a good example of a movie I think was enhanced by having reads the books.
I haven't seen the movie yet, so can't comment on that. As to reading the books, by all means do so. I'm a huge fan of the books, but very skeptical about the film. The books don't tell a story so much as provide a forum for Adams to play with the English language. He's the only one I've ever read that approaches "Wodehousian" (and that's very, very high praise indeed...) But what's going on in the books at any point is pretty much irrelevant - the fun is in how Adams wrote about what was going on.
I'd agree that you should probably read the book first, it's a relatively quick read, and you'll have a better idea of what's going on in the movie. The movie was all right, some stuff worked well, some didn't, but overall I enjoyed it. Still, if you want something that will make you laugh out loud a lot, I'd probably go with Kung Fu Hustle.
Don't read the books.
Go with an open mind and let the movie speak for itself. Then you can read the book and rewatch the dvd and it will be even better. But so far my students who did not read the book enjoyed the movie more that the ones who have read it.