Monday, 27 June 2005

An Improbable Point-of-View of Malaysians and the Hitchhiker's Guide

While I sort out the characters of the Malaysian bloggers LOTR thingy, I'd now like to talk about another movie - The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Many people thought it sucked. Some walked out of the cinema halfway through the movie. Some didn't find it funny. Some thought it was as exciting as a dung beetle.

Me? I thought it was freaking brilliant.

I've read the book quite a number of times before, and my last read was two months ago while browsing around Borders Singapore. Therefore, most of the jokes were still fresh in my head.

But anyway, enjoying the movie has NOTHING to do with the book. As the LOTR movies showed, not EVERY SINGLE aspect of a book can be translated into a good movie. Imagine Tom Bombadil appearing in the middle of FOTR. Gah.

I LOVED Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (or H2G2), mainly because I'm a sucker for comedies like this. I loved Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Where'd ya get the coconuts?). I loved British comedies like Black Adder (a far superior Atkinson product to the annoying Mr Bean).

And I loved H2G2.

Why? Because it's brilliant, that's why.

So it's not 'faithful' to the book (it is, in many aspects). It took the best parts of the book, took the essense of the humour in the book, and turned it into a damn funny movie.

Stephen Fry was brilliant as the voice of The Guide, Sam Rockwell must have been on speed when he played the role of Zaphod, and Mos Def was great as Ford Prefect. Alan Rickman as Marvin the Paranoid android was depressingly wonderful, and the DOORS of teh Heart of Gold were just hilarious. And the SPERM WHALE! THE SPERM WHALE! Freaking brilliant!

You'd have to be a lover of American slapstick comedies to NOT like this movie.

Oh wait a minute.

Maybe that's why people here don't like it. Because the humour is not as IN-YOUR-FACE as American comedies. Maybe that's why Malaysians prefered Mr Bean over Black Adder. Maybe that's why movies like Shaun of the Dead did not come here.

Not many Malaysians appreciate movies like H2G2 here. Or Shaun of the Dead. Or Monty Python. They don't understand what's so funny about these movies.

British comedy tends to be a lot more subtle than Americans'. There's a lot of language, a lot of sarcasm, dry wit, and tea. I like it because you had to think first before laughing. It's not visually driven. It's more language driven.

Oh sure, you DO have a lot of slapstick British comedies as well, but even those tend to be made more tastefully than American ones.

I once told the local movie distributer of H2G2 that it won't do very well in Malaysia, because most people won't understand the humour. And they would find it boring that there is so much talking and non-sensical terms.

Heck, give them more action movies! Give them BOMBS! GUNS! Don't give them something as silly as a Point-Of-View gun! Give them MISSILES and FIRE dropping from the sky, not sperm whales and petunias! They're never gonna understand what an Improbability Drive is! They want R2D2 and C-3PO, not Marvin the Paranoid Android!


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