From the desk of The Movie Snob:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (B-). Unless you are a fan of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker series of books, I cannot imagine that you would at all like this movie. I was a fan, way back when, and I would say that I appreciated the effort that went into the project more than I enjoyed the result. The plot is thin, just as it was in the books. Arthur Dent, a British everyman, is fighting to keep his house from getting bulldozed for highway construction. Little does he or any other Earthling know, that very day the entire Earth is also slated to be demolished for the construction of a galactic bypass, whatever that is. But Arthur lucks out—his friend Ford Prefect is actually an alien, and together they hitch a ride on one of the spaceships carrying out the demolition order. From there they experience a series of improbable adventures involving among other things, a fantastic spaceship that has been stolen by the President of the Galaxy, a depressed robot named Marvin, and a legendary planet that just might contain the key to life, the universe, and everything. I remember the book and its first sequel, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, as being extremely clever and funny, but their absurdist humor is very hard to translate to the big screen. This is probably about as well as it could be done, but it made me smile more than it made me laugh. On the plus side, it does have Zooey Deschanel (Elf) in it….
The Interpreter (C+). Nicole Kidman plays Silvia Broome, an emotionally scarred woman from Africa who works as a translator for the United Nations. Sean Penn plays Tobin Keller, an emotionally scarred agent in the U.S. Secret Service. Their paths cross when, a few days before an African dictator is to arrive in New York to address the U.N. in person, Silvia overhears a conversation suggesting that an assassination attempt is in the works. Keller is assigned to the case, he quickly gauges that Silvia’s not telling the whole truth, and the sparks fly. Or at least they are supposed to. The movie didn’t really work for me. I guess the thriller aspect of the movie was reasonably well-plotted and acted, but the fact that the assassination target is clearly a brutal dictator and possibly complicit in genocide weakens the tension. Worse, I found the scenes in which Silvia and Tobin are supposed to forge their inevitable bond strained, if not downright painful. Still, although saddled with clunky dialogue in those scenes, the stars turn in decent performances, and Nicole looks fabulous. (For a humorously scathing review of this flick, click here.) I’m already looking forward to Bewitched, and not because Will Ferrell is in it.