Picks and Pans Review: Movies

updated 05/09/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/09/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
SCI-FI
Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, Zooey Deschanel
[STARS 1.5]

If Monty Python had ever blasted off into space, this offbeat comedy might have resulted. Only it would have been funnier. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which began life as a British radio series created by writer Douglas Adams in 1978 (followed by multiple novels and a BBC TV show), is the kind of whimsical film you keep wanting to like more and laugh at louder. But its sluggish pacing and barely coherent plot make it a tough slog enlivened by the rare bright spot (love those singing dolphins).

English everyman Arthur Dent (Freeman) wakes one morning to learn that his best pal (Def) is an alien and that Earth is about to be blown to smithereens to make way for an intergalactic freeway. In short order the bathrobe-wearing Dent hitches a ride on a spaceship, falls in love with the only other remaining Earthling (the always endearing Deschanel) and finds the meaning of life. While the movie may appeal to ardent fans of earlier incarnations of Hitchhiker, newcomers to the cult will be left scratching their heads at this muddled mess. (PG)

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