Friday, April 29, 2005

The Hitchhiker's Guide to British Humor

It is an often forgotten fact that the British are a funny people. Often misrepresented as stuffy and overly bureaucratic, the British are in fact very observant and find humor in many things--things that are, indeed, stuffy and bureaucratic.

Take for instance, Douglas Adams's celebrated work The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It is full of British humor (and quite rightly so, since Adams himself was a Briton). Reveling in the absurdity of our modern world, it depicts a universe that is at once random and very, very organized.

The tension between these two opposites often creates a very dry, understated humor.

The movie version of THhGttG is similar in tone to Adam's radio play, then book, then BBC production, now movie. If you have never read the book you get a very good introduction to its general aim. You might be a bit perplexed by what is going on, but then you will be right along with Arthur Dent--the everyman hero of this absurdist tale of intergalactic freeways, planetary destruction, and the search for the mean of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

The Heart of Gold spaceship--utilizer of the famed (and cleverly depicted) Infinite Improbibility drive--looks from the outside like a Delft Christmas ornament crossed with bone china. The interior owes a lot to Apple and iPods. Marvin the robot has the looks of a Stormtrooper and the personality of Woody Allen.

If you like the BBC TV show The Office, you'll recognize the actor who plays Arthur. If you like Zooey Deschanel, you'll recognize her. If you like the Harry Potter movies, you'll recognize the voice of Alan Rickman. If you like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, you might recognize Sam Rockwell.

If you like Monty Python, you find a lot to like--especially if you like the notion of seeing a sperm whale get plastered into the ground at the moment of its creation.

So, "Don't Panic!" and go see it.

You might like it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Though I prefer to recognize Alan Rickman from "Sense and Sensibility," I have to agree with Burb. Having not read any of the books or heard the radio broadcast, I still enjoyed myself. Plus, the original song run during the credits was performed by the lead singer from the Divine Comedy, an entertaining and appropriatly over-the-top British group. (I mean, they did a dance remix of a Noel Coward song, for god's sake!) P.S. This isn't anonymous, it's Raisinette- it's been so long since I posted that I can't remember my password...

1:05 PM  

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