"review" · cinema

{film} muppets least wanted

muppets-most-wanted-trailer-0We are long-time fans of the Muppets. There was some geekery involved when Jason Segel and company insisted on their return to screen in The Muppets (2011). While amused by the Muppets Most Wanted (2014) trailers, we figured we would watch it when the mood struck. After all the philosophical and action films of late, Muppets seemed appropriate. Unfortunately, Muppets Most Wanted does not generate the kind of humor it requires to enjoy it; you have to be in the right sense of humor before hitting play. I recommend some sleeplessness and sugar, for adult and child both.

I do not wish to give the impression that Muppets Most Wanted will not garner a laugh. I was periodically overheard chuckling and snorting at the antics on screen. * The most amusing was easily the Seventh Seal reference (even without knowing the Ingmar Bergman connections). Ty Burrell’s Jean Pierre Napoleon’s caricature could be pretty funny. To reward the older fans, occasional references to Muppet history (often via classic gags) are interspersed throughout. And, of course, there are the cameos. If the badge-joke doesn’t do it for you, James McAvoy showing up at the UPS guy may work as an apology.

Swedish Chef playing chess w/ Death in an allusion to Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal
Swedish Chef playing chess w/ Death in an allusion to Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal

Muppet meta, Cinematic allusions** and Star guest-appearance are not the only thing Muppets Most Wanted has to offer, but it feels like that was what it was banking on. Sure, we cannot replicate the rendition of “Smells like Teen Spirit” from the 2011 film, but the musical numbers were only mildly entertaining (Celine Dion and Constantine numbers excluded)—as was the story itself.

That Kermit could be so easily replaced by the notorious Constantine is distressing. But the imposter can give the muppets and their audiences what they want. The critique of the entertainment industry is thinly veiled. Critics and viewers are bribed into audience and applause. The industry folk are persuaded that they need only to be in it for themselves to be successful—to be #1, not relegated to #2.  Kermit, as hero, is the epitome of selfless virtue, his immobility on certain topics harboring only the best interests of his friends/audiences. The story is something both adult and child audiences will understand and probably feel good about. But as Muppets Most Wanted continued, I began to wonder how a child would watch the film.

Celine Dion, Sean Combs, Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo
Celine Dion, Sean Combs, Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo

I’m not sure how far the gags, musical numbers, and heart-warming story about friendship and cooperation will take younger audience members. So much of the film seems to be about understanding things like how funny it is to watch Ray Liotta (Big Papa) and Machete aka Danny Trejo (Danny Trejo) appear not only harmless in a prison setting, but to sing and dance. Even then, I’m not sure the gimmicks are enough to keep the adult audience entertained either.

While even the film includes a musical number admitting that “everybody knows a sequel is never quite as good,” should everybody anticipate that a sequel will be this mediocre? If you feel the need to say you’ve seen all the Muppet films, there are more painful ways to spend an afternoon, but do not pay much more than time spent on the venture–find an inexpensive rental and bulk bin candies.

——-

*What was not as good a sign was Sean’s lack of humor; Sean being the bigger Muppet fan and having the broader appreciation for comedy.

**Was Constantine’s escape down the hallway homage to Old Boy (2003)?

————

muppets most wanted posterMuppets Most Wanted (2014); Director James Bobin; Writers: Bobin & Nicholas Stoller; Editing: James Thomas; Cinematography: Don Burgess; Music by Christophe Beck. Walt Disney, Mandeville Films; Walt Disney.

Starring: Ricky Gervais (Dominic Badguy), Ty Burrell (Jean Pierre Napoleon), Tina Fey (Nadya), Steve Whitmire (voice: Kermit, Foo Foo, Statler, Beaker, Lips, Rizzo the Rat, Link Hogthrob, The Newsman), Eric Jacobson (voice: Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Sam Eagle, Animal), Matt Vogel (Constantine, et al.), Ray Liotta (Big Papa) & Danny Trejo (Danny Trejo).

Rated PG for some mild action. Running time 107 minutes.

"review" · cinema · fiction · foreign · mystery · recommend

{television} Mans

Heard rumors BBC comedy drama, Jim Field Smith directed Wrong Mans (2013) was good, and have had it queued to watch. Don’t put off the Mathew Baynton and James Corden created/written show (available on HULU) like we did. Especially if you could use a bit of post-holiday pick-me-up.

wrong mans image

It all begins by answering someone else’s phone. The consequences of mistaken identity is compounded by further misapprehensions in a series of six thirty-minute episodes wherein Sam Pinkett (Mathew Baynton), Town Planning and Noise Guidance Advisor for Berkshire County Council, and his acquaintance and accomplice Phil Bourne (James Corden), the mail room employee, try to survive one unexpected disaster after another. The madness is in just how mixed-up everything becomes, the brilliance is in how the series works it all out—and ends it. Yeah, that ending is deliciously demented.

Wrong-Mans-3

Sam and Phil are just your average guys which makes their feats of bravery amidst all the intrigue all that more astounding—and entertaining. The show is just ridiculously funny with clever little touches—the credits person has too much fun. And stick around for credits to catch the synopsis of the episode in little animations.

The actors are obviously having a good time with this little comedy, but the camera-work and editing are just as playful. The Wrong Mans is a wild ride, completely silly and wonderful.

of noteThey’ve been getting some flak for the poor grammar in the title–apparently poor grammar is not a laughing matter for some. The opening sequence of credits clarify matters, as does the opening episode. The “wrong man” becomes two when Phil gets involved; and really, you should not mistake the series for being dark & broody noir as ‘Wrong Men’ would only suggest.

———————————

wrong mans

Wrong Mans (2013). Directed by Jim Field Smith. Written/Created by Mathew Baynton and James Cordon, w/ co-writer Tom Basden; composer Kevin Sargent; editors David Webb & Victoria Boydell; Exec Producers Charlotte Koh & Mark Freeland; producers Mr. Smith, Charlie Leech & Lucy Robinson. Set/Shot: UK. BBC2 Television. Starring: Mathew Baynton (Sam Pinkett), James Corden (Phil Bourne), Sarah Solemani (Lizzie), Tom Basden (Noel Ward).

"review" · fiction · Lit · recommend · wondermous · young adult lit

{book} love

rosie project coverThe Rosie Project

by Graeme Simsion

Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Hardcover, 295 pages. for the older crowd.

I told Sean that I’ve seen nothing but “Must Read” attached to Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project  as I held up the bright red book. It appeared on a crazy number of “Best of” lists as 2013 was closing. So you’ll not read it, he replied, knowing how contrary I can be. But I said, “I actually am.” (coincidentally proving my contrariness.) And now: I own it! (thank you sweet daughter of mine). If I’d bothered to make a list of favorite reads of 2013 this holiday season, The Rosie Project would have been on it. It is a seriously good time and Don Tillman is the best leading man of the year.

The Rosie Project is, as the publisher trumpets, “a hilarious, feel-good novel.”

Our narrator Don Tillman is “thirty-nine years old, tall , fit, and intelligent, with a relatively high status and above-average income as an associate professor [of genetics at a prestigious University in Melbourne]. Logically, [he] should be attractive to a wide range of women. In the animal kingdom, [he] would succeed in reproducing. However, there is something about [him] that women find unappealing” (3). Don goes on to share an example of a failed date. But while he is left wondering why women find him unappealing, the reader has little trouble at all. And yet, I find it hard to blame him as he laments the lost time and accumulated disappointment. And here lies much of the book’s appeal—Don’s perspective: both his obliviousness and his obsessions with detail.

His project to find a wife, holding on to a tenuous belief that there is a statistical probability of his finding a mate, is amusing. Lovelier is how Rosie’s project to find her biological father mirrors his. Lovelier still how neither are spectacularly “normal.” It is also exciting that Simsion does not place a traditionally acceptable model of marriage in hands of Don’s best friends (only real friends) Gene and Claudia. There is no room for the fallacy of perfect humans and perfect relationships in The Rosie Project.

The novel opens with a particularly funny situation wherein Don is going to give a lecture on Asperger’s, which is a new subject for him as he is covering for Gene. When Claudia asks if the expression seemed familiar to him, he identifies a colleague in the physics department, not himself, as she was so pointedly suggesting. The scene and its conversation is quickly shed as the novel progresses but what it was saying does not ever go away. His difference makes some things difficult for him, but he is not any less valuable or worthwhile or…however we measure a life. And that Don is source of humor, the novel never moves to humiliate him—love does this quite efficiently on its own… No one needs a diagnosis to understand how difficult reading a potential lover can be; or acknowledge how we can sabotage important moments out of fear, or even acute longing.

One of my favorite things about the book, aside from the Asperger’s Lecture, and the Daphnes, is how friendship functions in this romantic comedy—how much love requires it. But what does it look like, what does it do, and how does it affect a person both rationally and no.

The book is so effortless to read. Not in the predictably neat and tidy way, not at all. It is so funny and sweet and smart—incredibly smart. It was never a chore, is quotable whilst in the room with someone, and is requiring of several deep satisfying and exasperating sighs. I may have held my breath a time or two, The Rosie Project is an adventure you’ll not want to miss.

———

of note: a 2013 read.

"review" · cinema · foreign · recommend · sci-fi/fantasy

{film} the world’s end

Top 5 Reasons to visit The World’s End (2013)

…seriously, don’t crawl getting there. Run! and maybe hurdle a few objects along the way.

cornetto_trilogy_Onesheet

1: You love Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007).

I use the present tense on purpose because you watch them at least once a year. You know that hurdling fences gag does not get old—and so does The World’s End. Besides the recurring jokes, the bromance, the English, the Western, the themes, settings, angsts the trilogy is revisiting in each installment, what is especially fantastic in the 3rd is the switch between Simon Pegg’s and Nick Frost’s character types; yes, that stroke of genius is my take-away.

Edgar Wright’s direction means clever cutting, excellent sound (not just music), and the choreography in physical movement and narrative—the fight scenes, getting characters from one pub to the next…One of my favorite moments is that “musical” number after the 5 leave the pub realizing that maybe their lives might actually depend on finishing the crawl; think that ridiculously silly pool-stick-beating-zombie number in Shaun of the Dead.

worlds-endWorlds-End-Simon-Pegg-Nick-Frost

2:  Your coming of age isn’t actually a John Hughes film, but the decade after…

Sean (a 1994 alum) sang along with every song. Granted, how many other East Texans came of age with a Brit’s soundtrack other than Sean. Even so that opening sequence (patterned off of late-80s, early ’90s MTV) and Gary King’s (Simon Pegg) wardrobe and middle fingers are all too familiar. And sure, there are key themes and figures (such as King) who are familiar to everyone’s youth, but dammit! I get tired of historical fiction set/made in the 1980s.

(Show of hands if you (like Sean) recognized The Sisters of Mercy on cue.)

Worlds-End-2013-Movie-Image

3: You know the Cast will be (and is) marvelously smart and funny.

Simon Pegg is magical. He can be an absolute ass and yet manage to be incredibly charming at the same time. The utter abandonment of vanity helps. Then there is his ability to cry well, oh, and apologize whilst maintaining that spark of mischief. Nick Frost (Andy Knightly), Paddy Considine (Steven Prince), Eddie Marsan (Peter Page), and Martin Freeman (Oliver Chamberlain) not only make up King’s court (note the character last names) but they are the childhood friends grown-up—and while I initially wasn’t sure what to expect chem-wise between them, they play really really well together. And as for befitting roles? brilliant.

I still think nothing that has been suggested in the last 10 minutes beats ‘smashy smashy egg men’.—Andrew Knightly (Nick Frost)

Worlds-End-2013-Movie-Image 22

4: Because you know that being the Grown-up can really suck sometimes and you could use a comedy that will actually make you laugh about it.

Gary King isn’t the only character in crisis. No, the film interrogates a particularly problematic issue with adulthood : the denial and concealment of messes. Messiness isn’t mature. Mature is having your shit together and off the lawn. Is it, really? In the film Mature has resulted in the “starbucking” of the pub[lic house]—and for the greater good of what exactly? It is an interesting question.

Not that growing up is all bad: One of my favorite grown-up moments to no one’s surprise is when Steven tells Sam Chamberlain (Rosamund Pike) that he will leave his young fitness instructor girlfriend (whom he boyishly bragged about earlier) if he had the slightest chance of being with her. The other moment vying for that spot involves Sam as well, when she is educating Gary on the that was then, and this is how it is now.

For all the drinking done, I wouldn’t show up drunk to the viewing–the film will shame you for it. The pints, the time together, you’ll not want to miss what Wright & Pegg are doing here.

You grow up to get wiser, to become someone, not to show your aptitude for becoming sheep—or a “blank,” or a “smashy smashy egg man.”

Worlds-End-Cast-banner

5: You, too, do not like leaving things unfinished

The Golden Mile, the Cornettos…actually getting to close the deal, confront that bully from the past, as well as that romantic crush, find some reconciliation with a friend’s betrayal and, of course, finishing a good pint. How does one mark progress if not actual arrival? How does one actually become of age? there is something about letting go, resolutions, and The World’s End can be a bit silly, but it is considerate. there is so much pressure to become, to finish, but what if you arrive to find the “finished” product not what you were promised, or as it was promised (and thus terrifying)…

I was eager to see what an ending to this type of trilogy would look like, and I was pleased.  that said, the closing of the film probably held the least appeal for me, though it is perfectly in keeping with its choice of genre (classic sci-fi). the speech with the Network was dangerously close to over-done, the closing narrative oozing a bit with cheese in the better world vision department. That ending has to do with minding the genre—which, no doubt, has all the sci-fi genre finishes.

Worlds-End-Teaser-Poster

The World’s End (2013); Director Edgar Wright; Writers: Mr. Wright & Simon Pegg; director of photography, Bill Pope; edited Paul Machliss; music Steven Price;  produced by Nira Park, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner; released by Focus Features.  Starring:  Simon Pegg (Gary King), Nick Frost (Andy Knightley), Paddy Considine (Steven Prince), Martin Freeman (Oliver Chamberlain), Eddie Marsan (Peter Page), Rosamund Pike (Sam Chamberlain).

Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references. Running time 109 minutes.

A.O.Scott’s NYTimes Review “Last Call for Friends to Grow Up” in which he concludes:  Edgar Wright’s “project is childish fun with adult language and grown-up costumes, and he executes it with energy and precision. The Cornetto Trilogy is named after a popular ice cream treat, and the buzz of “The World’s End” is more like an antic sugar high than a reeling, drunken stupor. There are no headaches, dry mouth or crushing shame at the end — no “Hangover,” in other words. I’ll drink to that.”

"review" · cinema · foreign · mystery · recommend

{film} a hitchcock & a comédie romantique

Film studies like my Literature courses taught me a very important truth: just because I need to view/read a classic or iconic piece does not mean I will enjoy it—or even get it (without certain contexts, and even then). The most liberating assertion was that I didn’t even have to like it, I just had to find a place of respect and articulate my displeasure critically (in the academic sense of the word). However, one needn’t groan at the mention of “classic” or even “award-winner,” either; at least, that is what I am trying to teach Natalya. But Hitchcock is hardly a chore and I believe anyone could sit down and enjoy North by Northwest (1959) without the need for instructional aid; at least, that was what Sean and I were trying to prove to Natalya the other evening. And it worked.

Like Poe or Lovecraft, Hitchcock quickly comes to mind during the non-challenge R.eader’s I.mbibing P.eril (RIP) and I usually opt for his mysteries over the outright horror films (because am very much a scaredy-cat and old enough to be okay with that). I think we tried Rear Window (1954) last year, but it didn’t click for N and figured we would try an adrenaline rush of another sort in North by Northwest. But we will be revisiting Rear Window, but I think N likes Cary Grant over James Stewart. I think she liked His Girl Friday (1940) and [gasp!] she didn’t care for It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)—but we’ll try that one again, too. I didn’t like Casablanca (1942) at all the first two times; it took Critical Approach to Film to enjoy it. Anyway, I digress.

For those unfamiliar, North by Northwest is about: “A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive” (IMDb). Enjoy the humor at Roger O. Thorton’s confusion over his very deadly situation, and smile even harder when his assassins fail to kill him in outlandish yet reasonable (?) ways—must make it look like an accident, of course… For RIP purposes, wonder at just how they will actually get rid of him, and try (w/ Thorton) to figure out who they are, and just who can be trusted?

North by Northwest was fun to watch with N because she was sucked down the rabbit hole with Thorton (Cary Grant) whom is so perfectly comedic and so deadly earnest at the same time. While she, too, was figuring out just what the heck was going on! I was able to admire Hitchcock’s direction, and not just those iconic shots paid homage to time and time again. I was especially appreciative, this time, of the way he begins amping up audience anxiety from the very opening of the film. The large quick paced crowds, cuts and directional shifts. He was setting up the hustle and bustle, and the anonymity, of the high urban workday sure, but why not make it work on people’s nerves at the same time.

North by Northwest is a great film and perfect for the autumnal (RIP-participating) season. I enjoy it even knowing how things play out, but it was especially tasty experiencing the film again with someone who had yet to see it. I think we are ready for Orson Welles’ The Third Man (1949), don’t you?

{2nd image: North by Northwest by James Hance}

———————————————————

Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings recommended a lovely romantic-comedy the other day and so we set it streaming on Netflix. The Jean-Pierre Améris directed film is: Les émotifs anonymes(Romantics Anonymous, 2010) And Carl’s review is here; which you should read, because 1) it is very good & 2) because it is that good and I have very little different to say I am not doing a full post review of my own.

I must emphasize these portions of Carl’s review:

—Benoît Poelvoorde (Jean-Rene) and Isabelle Carre (Angelique) display incredible performances. “From start to finish these two shy, bumbling characters light up the screen in each and every frame.” You can see Benoit/Jean-Rene sweat even before you discover its extent (and smile over his way of dealing with it). Isabelle/Angelique moves seamlessly into near-tears and impending faint. There are moments of greater normalcy if not outright confidence for each and they serve to measure these actors marvelous range. It truly is difficult to not believe the two inhabit their characters so completely as convincing as they are.

–“Romantics Anonymous is a romantic comedy to be sure, but its comedy is more subtle than slapstick and fits perfectly into the film’s overall mood. As an audience we are invited to laugh with these characters and not at them and in the process you empathize with them as they struggle valiantly to overcome their shyness and anxiety.” There is a really great balance here of physical comedy and the quiet awkward exchange. The timing of silence/dialog, movement/stills, and even of a sweet little soundtrack makes this film a great romantic comedy. You can empathize and laugh and get lost to neither. The direction really minds the audience (and characters’) need for catharsis, because the situation is ever on the verge of all out tragedy and we (and the characters) feel it keenly.

–“This is a film with a small but effective cast.” The supporting cast really is enjoyable. The therapist and the girl who can’t say “no” are favorites, but they all play wonderfully heightening whatever situation the main characters have embroiled them in.

In addition:

–it is a testament to how many times I have watched Sound of Music to not only recognize “I Have Confidence”
in French (J’ai confiance) when Angelique uses it as her “theme song,” singing it to herself to boost her confidence, but to recognize her use of the same choreography. I think Sean was surprised and disturbed.

–Benoit’s family motto is “Let’s hope nothing happens to us” (Finding Nemo came to mind) and Benoit struggles with the knowledge that nothing does not only mean the frightful things, but the beautiful as well. And that the beautiful can be frightful, except while we may know it to be worthwhile, he has yet to fully arrive there. Notably, this is not a motto Angelique lives by as she doesn’t have Benoit’s situation of privilege financially (though that is a looming question) and she has ambitions of finding love and pursuing her creative/career interests. She embodies the idea that being brave does mean one is without fear—the kind of truth in a heroine we have been missing from book/screen.

–the ending was really really sweet and you come to fully appreciate how nothing in the film feels saccharine or contrived.

Les émotifs anonymes would be a nice addition to a weekend involving Amelie (for color palette, French subtitles, and idiosyncrasies),  Mostly Martha (for neuroses, food, and romance), and especially Chocolat (for chocolate, romance, and dramatic humor).

"review" · fiction · juvenile lit · mystery · recommend · series

{book} the secret of the fortune wookiee

Tom Angleberger is a household favorite. [After borrowing it from the Library, Natalya insisted on owning Fake Mustache —review pending, but know she has read it and referenced it often.] I think Origami Yoda is brilliant and was pleased at how well Darth Paper followed suit. Needless to say, The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee was a must.

The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee: An Origami Yoda Book by Tom Angleberger

Amulet Books, 2012.

hardcover, 190 pages + paper folding instructions (which are available here, too).

Library borrowed.

With Dwight attending Tippett Academy this semester, the kids of McQuarrie Middle School are on their own—no Origami Yoda to give advice and help them navigate the treacherous waters of middle school. Then Sara gets a gift she says is from Dwight—a paper fortune-teller in the form of Chewbacca. It’s a Fortune Wookiee, and it seems to give advice that’s just as good as Yoda’s—even if, in the hands of the girls, it seems too preoccupied with romance. In the meantime, Dwight is fitting in a little too well at Tippett. Has the unimaginable happened? Has Dwight become normal? It’s up to his old friends at McQuarrie to remind their kooky friend that it’s in his weirdness that his greatness lies.
With his proven knack for humorously exploring the intrigues, fads, and dramas of middle school, Tom Angleberger has crafted a worthy follow-up to his breakout bestsellers The Strange Case of Origami Yoda andDarth Paper Strikes Back.—Publisher’s comments.

I know that boys have and will gravitate toward this series, and it is good that they do, but I really encourage the girls to take them up as well—they will especially enjoy Fortune Wookiee. And maybe I am just biased, but I think geeked-out girls are awesome. And awesomeness is a concern in Fortune Wookiee.

Who likes boring? I’m with Tommy, I would choose weird over boring any day. Fortunately for Tommy, he soon finds school weird enough to warrant a case file and is able to leave boring behind. Tommy finds himself faced with two major questions: What force is driving the Fortune Wookie and what is going on with Dwight at his new school?

Students and staff at Dwight’s new school believe they are being Understanding and caring, and Dwight thinks normal is a benefit, but I think any reader will share Caroline, Tommy, and even Harvey’s sense of panic in this situation. Dwight is rapidly losing that which makes him awesome; awesome, not “special.” “Special” is a demoralizing term here and makes anyone not-normal into an object to be pitied rather than a person only looking for acceptance (quirks included). It becomes increasingly creepy how “Understanding” and its principles seem to have a homogenizing effect on the students. The interesting thing about the criticism the book offers is how it functions as more of a cautionary tale than an all-out-dismissal of the intentions behind the actions. So much comes down to how well we know people and make the effort to understand them as they are—presently. Yes, there is a bit about people changing and growing up—something Middle Schoolers would really like people to notice.

The comedic episodes that make up the case file (aka The Fortune Wookie) have plenty say to its young readers even as it commiserates with them. How do we survive middle school with our singular sense of self intact? and seriously, what is the Big Pink, grandma? It is Angleberger’s sense of humor and personality-rich characters that make this read as fun as it is meaningful.

-{left: Han Foldo translates for Chewbacca, of course}

recommendations: any and all middle-grade student, Star Wars fan or no, though fans will get the references the easiest.  (I would love for a Whovian to do a series in Angleberger’s fashion.) for those who like humor; stories about friendship; are interested in activism; and dig origami or kirigami.

of note: >>It helps to read these books in order; Angleberger finesses some of the smoothest transitions between books in a series I’ve seen, but there is a lot of development over its course. >>Angleberger introduces a thread that makes for a highly anticipated next book. Principal Rabbski is implementing a new program that means “so long Arts & Music Ed”…all electives actually. I love how he addresses Middle School concerns beyond relationship troubles. Spend five minutes with N or friends on the subject of music, art, drama, etc. in schools and you will know these young people are not dispassionate on the subject of what is happening in their schools and with their education.

From Origamiyoda.wordpress on the next book

Art2-D2′s Guide to Folding and Doodling: An Origami Yoda Activity Book

Coming in March!
(see, I told you it would be pretty soon!)

This IS a case file, but it’s Kellen’s case file. (Tommy gets a few words in, too. And — unavoidably! — so does Harvey!)

It will be full of instrux for all kinds of stuff. I am really excited about and have worked like crazy on it. I hope you guys are going to like it!!!

And what of Rabbski and The FunTime Menace? Stay tuned….

my reviews of Origami Yoda (2010) and Darth Paper Strikes Back (2011)

{images belong to Abrams (of which Amulet is an imprint)}

"review" · fiction · guestblogger · Lit · N · recommend · sci-fi/fantasy · series · young adult lit

{book} adams’ hitchhiker’s guide

{“A Suprised Looking Whale and Bowl of Petunias” by Jonathan Burton}

The daughter is stopping in to share:

The inaccurately named Hitchhiker’s Trilogy.

I find it flabbergasting that one can lay in a field in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1971, being faintly drunk and having a horrible day overall, and brilliantly (though slightly deliriously) come up with a wonderful idea for a book, promptly forget about it for 6 whole years, and still come up with this wonderful, crazy series. I am utterly astonished…. and tempted (not the drunk part; I’m 12). Being a writer myself, I should know that these ideas come to you at the craziest times and that it is vitally important to have something to write on and write with at all times. However, while most writers have ideas at crazy, random moments, few, if any, have the ideas that Douglas Adams possesses. It takes some wicked skill to do what he did. Do you want to know what he did, and what is so fabulous about it? You should, and if you do not, then why did you come and read this blog in the first place?!

First of all (I know, dreadfully boring beginning, right? The boring essay beginning I am firmly against), he begins–or middles–the so-called, “trilogy” with the book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It starts us off by introducing his main character: Arthur Dent, a fairly normal English man who is fond of his house, because he lives  in it, loves tea, works at a local radio station, is against bypasses, and has a very strange friend who saves his life, but to his consternation, not his home.

Over the course of the book we meet: Ford Prefect (not a typo for “perfect,” I can assure you), a hitchhiker who got stuck on earth for fifteen years and is the reporter for the biggest, best-selling book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Zaphod Beeblebrox, a crazy, froody president of the galaxy with two heads, three arms and an overdeveloped magnetism for trouble; Trillian, a human who got picked up by Zaphod at a party he gatecrashed who is probably the most sane and sensible of the group; Marvin, a depressed robot that was made by the Serious Cybernetics Corporation before they figured out how to make their genuine people personalities actually work; and Eddie, the annoying computer interface to Heart of Gold, a new, one of a kind spaceship that Zaphod just happened to steal. There are other minor characters I could mention at this point, but it might ruin it for you, which might cause you to join up with other discontented readers and spend all of your time plotting how to mob me, which is not suggested. Listing minor characters (however charming they may be) would take up too much space, and it would take a lot more time than I have to spend at this time on minor characters (no matter how amusing they are).

 {another of the talented Jonathan Burton’s illustrations, check out his portfolio and find more of his Hitchhiker’s images here.}

You might notice I am going on many digressions, well so does Douglas Adams in his books and that adds most of the humor, so you might as well get used to them if you want to read his books (which you do!).

<<spoiler alert! If you want to know something about the book that isn’t too big a spoiler in my opinion, but will probably be a spoiler nonetheless, please go to the very bottom of the post and read the asterisked spoiler there! Thank you for your time and consideration. >>

Overall, the first book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a story involving the disgusting Vogons and their nasty poetry, some tea, towels, tons of hitchhiking, lots of improbability, a realization that involves mice, and the answer of life, the universe, and everything. Oops, I forgot to add, a whole lot of ridiculousness—maybe you picked up on that though.

PART TWO PEOPLE! Or, the second book.

Now that all that silliness is done, I will move on to his second book, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. This starts off with learning that the main characters are still alive, annoying, and ridiculous as always while they are fleeing from the Vogon construction fleet. Stuck, Zaphod holds a séance to summon his crabby great-great-grandfather, Zaphod the fourth, whom inevitably launches them into an adventure of proportions which include: Frogstar World B, blowing off fate to go to the restaurant at the end of the universe, meeting a bunch of unlikely ancestors, escaping death for the millionth time, and a whole bunch of other nonsense.

PART THREE READERS!

See, that wasn’t so long, now was it? [it is N writing this, after all. ~L] In the next book, Life, the Universe and Everything, our gang of characters are split up; Arthur, living in a cave, being insulted, and slowly going mad on a prehistoric earth; Ford, wandering the same prehistoric earth, until they find each other, chase after a couch, find themselves in a cricket match, and learn about an entirely different, more deadly form of “Krikkit” (which Ford desperately tries to ignore and attempts to find a place to drink and have fun). Meanwhile, Marvin is stuck in a swamp, being dreary as usual, this time determined to depress a very exuberant mattress. At the same time, Zaphod is in a mood and is drinking himself silly to which Trillian responds by teleporting herself randomly somewhere else. Arthur finds himself in a very bewildering encounter with an unknown enemy and learns how to fly, before Trillian, himself and Ford reunite (to Fords delight) at a party, which is, of course, ruined and all four of them find that they are drawn in, whether they like it or not, to save the universe.

Now I’ll warn you, that I could go on forever, because the “trilogy” consists of 5 books, not including And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer, which is the sixth book in the trilogy. Instead of continuing or beginning to talk about each one separately, I’ll just say that they are great. All six books are equally ridiculous and I advise you to read them all.

Douglas Adams was able to lay in a field, a little drunk, and have a crazy thought; through doing this, he created a wonderful series of absurdity, of brilliance, of towels, and extraordinary universe. Reading this series will make you laugh and quote it out loud so many times that people will think that you have finally gone absolutely crazy. Crazy in a good way, I hope.

Here are some tips to being a true, obsessed fan of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

1. Read it over and over and over and over and over.

42. Repeat.

2. Always, constantly, no matter how many times they tell you to shut up, keep quoting the guide.

3. May 25th is towel day. It celebrates Douglas Adams. Only the geekiest people know about it and celebrate it, and it is celebrated all over the world. All you have to do is carry a towel around with you all day and quote like crazy.

 *the world is utterly destroyed as you know it. Just thought you ought to know.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

The daughter aka N aka Natalya should be a more frequent guest-blogger than she is. When she finally finished the whole Hitchhiker’s Guide series this summer, she agreed to write something and well, it was becoming a series in itself. She surrendered what she had and L  tuned the above “review” a smidge & added images.

The Guide is an experience, and few things make a dinner conversation more interesting than exchanging favorite sequences and quotes from the books. The Guide has an infectious quality, and the symptoms of an outbreak of fandom vary. However, the exposure comes highly recommended, and better earlier than late.