There are few who love the book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy more than I. You can imagine, then, how disappointed I was at the terrible movie.
I have always hoped they'd do a better version, one that kept to the source material (preferably the original radio scripts) more closely. Here's what I would do:
FADE IN: EXT. THE MILKY WAY The entire galaxy turns slowly beneath us. THE GUIDE (A calm, authoritative, British voice) Far out on the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the galaxy, lies an unremarkable, yellow sun. CUT TO: EXT. THE EARTH The world circles the distant sun. It turns so we can see ENGLAND. A line of programming code appears below it: OBJ Milky_Way.Sol.Earth.Deep_Thought2 THE GUIDE (v.o.) Orbiting at a distance of roughly 90 million miles is a little blue green planet called Earth whose ape descended life forms are so primitive they still think smart phones are a pretty neat idea. EXT. SIDEWALK - DAY We ZOOM OUT to reveal a young woman, FENCHURCH, who has been sitting on the sidewalk, looking at the world on her phone. THE GUIDE (v.o.) The Earth had a problem: nothing that ever happened ever made the slightest bit of sense. There is a loud SQUEAL and a CRASH. Fenchurch looks up. CUT TO: EXT. STREET - CONTINUOUS A CAR has run over a fire hydrant and stopped directly on it. The DRIVER and a CROWD stares as water squirts out through the tailpipes, grille, and sunroof. The CAR and DRIVER are labelled with code. The car says $HYDRO_Vehicle: int = H20++; The driver says TriD.TV (Descendant)--; THE GUIDE (v.o.) And lots of people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even those with smart phones. EXT. SIDEWALK - CONTINUOUS FENCHURCH is still watching with fascination from the sidewalk. She's father away, so we can see she's sitting under a window with a sign that says IPHONE 93 NOW WITH 1 MILIMETRE BIGGER SCREEN She's been camping out, waiting for the newest thing. On either side of her is a line of others doing the same. One has chairs and another has a small tent. She realizes something. A line of code appears over her head. While (6*9 == 42); THE GUIDE Then, one day, a woman sitting in line for the latest smart phone suddenly realized what had been going on all along. She finally knew the answer to the world's problems. (a beat) This is not her story. At her shocked indignation at not being the main character, we CUT TO: EXT. PLANNING DEPARTMENT - DAY Intro music starts. ARTHUR DENT -- the born loser, wearing nothing but his pyjamas, bedroom slippers, and a nightrobe (he wears this through the entire movie) -- walks up to a large, impressive building. His code is: if (Dent_Arthur) return 0; He glances down at a SIGN with equally impressive writing: PLANNING OFFICE. He walks in through the front doors. CUT TO: INT. LOBBY - CONTINUOUS The title appears: THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. Music continues. ARTHUR DENT walks in and is horrified to find the room is filled with dozens of men and women waiting in line to talk to a single man behind a window. CUT TO: INT. LOBBY - AN HOUR LATER ARTHUR is dreary with waiting, but he's finally at the front. The woman behind him nudges him and points to the man behind the window. Arthur jumps up and walks over. We can barely hear their conversation above the music. ARTHUR DENT Look, someone came by and told me they're going to knock down my house. Well, first he cleaned some windows and- MAN (interrupting, he's got better things to do) You want demolition. Third floor. ARTHUR DENT Oh. Uh. Thank you. The man gives him a cheerless smile. Arthur looks around. The elevator is marked OUT OF ORDER. He walks to the stairs. CUT TO: INT. DEMOLITION OFFICE - AN HOUR LATER ARTHUR is standing in another line in a nearly identical room. His name is called and, again, someone nudges him before he realizes it. He goes over to a woman behind a desk. The music and titles are still playing. ARTHUR DENT Hi. Look a man came over and said they were going to knock down my house to build a bypass- WOMAN You want the construction department. Fifth floor. Arthur bites back his anger and heads for the stairs. INT. CONSTRUCTION OFFICE - AN HOUR LATER Music and titles as before. ARTHUR is fuming now. When his turn comes he jumps forward. MAN (not even giving him a chance to speak) This is the industrial construction department. You want residential construction. Eighth floor. A SERIES OF QUICK CUTS: ARTHUR IN LINE. ARTHUR GOING UP STAIRS. AGAIN AND AGAIN. INT. TOP OFFICE - HOURS LATER Music and titles ARTHUR is at the end of his rope. He pushes past several people in line to shout at the woman managing it. He screams at her, raving mad. ARTHUR DENT I've been here all bloody day trying to find out if the bypass is going through my house! Now tell me how I find out! There is a horrible silence as everyone takes in the fact he dares to yell at this minor functionary in her lair. The music and titles stop. Arthur realizes he made a terrible mistake, but the woman just smiles terrifyingly, and taps her long fingernails together. INT. SUB-SUB-BASEMENT - LATER It is COMPLETELY DARK. After a beat, a smart phone flashlight shines painfully ahead. There's a door with a sign that used to read MEN'S LAVATORY. Someone taped a page over it, which reads BEWARE OF LEOPARD. ARTHUR (who is holding smart phone) enters. Sitting awkwardly in a stall on top of a grimy toilet is a filing cabinet. He pulls on a few drawers before finding the bottom one opens. He takes out a giant WHITE-PRINT ROLL. He awkwardly unrolls it, revealing a map that shows a path of planned destruction through a town between two highways. At the top of the page is the date: THURSDAY, MAR 2nd - 1 PM He puzzles over the date. Wait a minute... He looks at his SMART PHONE SCREEN. He's installed TINDER, MATCHMAKER, AM I HOT OR NOT, and something called THE GUIDE. He holds the phone up so he can see the dates together. It's currently March 2nd at 12:55 PM. He has five minutes. He rushes out. EXT. FRONT OF ARTHUR'S HOUSE - EVENING ARTHUR, still in his bathrobe, lies in the mud in front of a giant, yellow BULLDOZER. He's managed to block an entire CONSTRUCTION CREW who are waiting with disgruntled impatience. Behind them is a path of destruction. They've bashed through a number of homes like a tornado. Through the debris between the remaining houses, we can see a freeway. PROSSER, a foreman who uses a simpering smile to cover a barely controlled desire to kill Arthur, is trying to reason with him. PROSSER Come on, Mr. Dent. You can't win, you know. You can't just lie in front of bulldozers forever. ARTHUR DENT Can't I? Let's see who rusts first. PROSSER You can't stand in the way of progress. This bypass has to be built. ARTHUR DENT Why has it got to be built? PROSSER (completely stunned by the question) Well. Uh. We pan up to see a man in the house next door open his window shade and blearily look out. CUT TO: INT. FORD PREFECT'S HOUSE - CONTINUOUS FORD, an odd man with wild hair, has just woken up. He's the kind of guy who drinks heavy all night and sleeps through the day. Every day. He stares angrily out the window like a man with a hangover looks at a loud noise outside. He shakes his head. He's not going to get any more sleep. He turns and goes into his bathroom. INT. BATHROOM - CONTINUOUS FORD looks in the mirror. He pulls his eyes wide and sticks out his tongue. There is a buzzing noise and Ford realizes it's coming from his SMART PHONE RINGING ON TOP OF THE OPEN TOILET It's lit with a flashing icon of a flying saucer. The gears click in his head. This is important. This is what he's been waiting for. He grabs the smart phone and taps it. It displays the image of a yellow, slab-like, alien space ship. It's labelled VOGON CONSTRUCTOR FLEET. Ford is stunned, horrified. The phone slips from his numb fingers and falls into the toilet with a plop. He shakes himself out of his torpor and runs out. A beat passes. He runs back in, grabs a couple of towels and runs out again. EXT. FRONT OF ARTHUR'S HOUSE - MOMENTS LATER ARTHUR is still arguing withe PROSSER from the muddy ground. PROSSER (finally coming up with an answer from before) It's a bypass. You've got to build bypasses. ARTHUR DENT Then build it somewhere else. PROSSER (who has reached the end of his rope) Mr. Dent, do you have any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you? ARTHUR DENT How much? PROSSER None at all. FORD, now dressed and carrying an ungainly satchel, hurries up. FORD PREFECT (not registering what's going on) Hello, Arthur. Are you busy? ARTHUR, PROSSER, and the entire CREW stare at him. Arthur is the first to react. ARTHUR DENT No, I've just got this bulldozer to lie in front of. FORD PREFECT Good good. Nice day for it. Look, we need to talk. Let's go down to the pub and have a drink. ARTHUR DENT Ford! This man is going to knock down my house! FORD PREFECT Can't he do it without you? ARTHUR DENT I don't want him to! Ford finally gets it. He turns to Prosser, who is standing to one side, talking grumpily to a worker. FORD PREFECT Er, excuse me. Mr... Uh. PROSSER Prosser. Has he come to his senses? FORD PREFECT Let's assume he hasn't. Prosser turns back. FORD PREFECT (CONT'D) I have to tell him the most important thing he'll hear in his entire life, and I have to tell him right now and I have to tell him in that pub down there. PROSSER Why there? FORD PREFECT He's going to need a stiff drink. Prosser decides Ford is a loony and turns away again. FORD PREFECT (CONT'D) Look, you're going to be standing here all day. PROSSER Because he'll be lying there all day! FORD PREFECT But it doesn't actually matter if it's him, does it? As long as someone is lying there... So, could you... You know... Lie there for him? Prosser stares at him, blankly. FORD PREFECT (CONT'D) (hinting) Of course, it goes without saying, you wouldn't knock his house down while we're away. PROSSER (gets it) Of course not. The mere thought hadn't even begun to speculate about the merest possibility of crossing my mind. We cut to PROSSER LYING IN FRONT OF BULLDOZER. Ford and Arthur (still covered in mud) are heading away. ARTHUR DENT (looking over his shoulder, nervous) Can we trust him? FORD PREFECT I'd trust him to the end of the Earth. CUT TO: INT. LOCAL PUB - CONTINUOUS FORD and ARTHUR walk into a small, homey pub with a long counter, a few taps, and friends chatting at tables. The TV ON THE WALL shows a pre-game a football (soccer!) program. The BARMAN -- a cheerful, portly man -- waves to them. They're regulars. FORD PREFECT Six pints of bitter. And quickly, please, the world's about to end. BARMAN (in his own world) Nice day for it. Here to watch the game? FORD PREFECT No. No point. BARMAN You figure Arsenal doesn't have a chance? They'll get creamed? FORD PREFECT No. It's just that the world's about to end. BARMAN Yeah. Good thing for Arsenal. FORD PREFECT Not really. The Barman finishes pouring. FORD PREFECT (CONT'D) And six packets of peanuts The Barman lays them out on the bar. Ford scoops them into a pocket and dumps all the money in his wallet in front of him. FORD PREFECT (CONT'D) Keep the change. The Barman stares at the money, then stares at Ford. He finally gets it. BARMAN Are you serious? Is the world about to end? Ford checks his watch and gathers up the overflowing mugs. FORD PREFECT In about five minutes. He turns to go, but the barman grabs his sleeve. BARMAN Is there something we can do? FORD PREFECT No. Nothing. BARMAN I thought we were supposed to lie down or put a paper bag over our head. FORD PREFECT If you'd like. Excuse me. He pulls free and rushes off to where Arthur is sitting. The Barman, seeking comfort, goes back to the only thing he knows. BARMAN Last orders, please! INT. CORNER OF PUB - CONTINUOUS Arthur is sitting near a window, looking out to make sure the bulldozer isn't moving. Ford puts the mugs down and starts drinking with abandon. Arthur sips one. Ford makes an impatient gesture at Arthur's three pints. FORD PREFECT Drink up. The world's about to end. ARTHUR DENT Three pints? At lunchtime? FORD PREFECT Muscle relaxant. You'll need it. Arthur drinks, trying to catch up to Ford. He has no chance. FORD PREFECT (CONT'D) How long have we known each other? ARTHUR DENT (panting between gulps) Five years. Most of it made some kind of sense at the time. FORD PREFECT What would you say if I told you I wasn't from London after all? What if I told you I was actually from a planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse? ARTHUR DENT Why? Is it something you're likely to tell me? FORD PREFECT Drink up! The world's about to end! ARTHUR DENT (big gulp) This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays. LOUD CRASH. Arthur jumps and looks out the window. FORD PREFECT Don't worry, they haven't started yet. Arthur relaxes. FORD PREFECT (CONT'D) They're just knocking down your house. Arthur does a spit take and rushes off. EXT. SPACE - CONTINUOUS Earth, a blue ball in dark space. THE GUIDE On this particular Thursday, things were moving miles overhead. Something impossibly large and yellow and ugly comes into view. THE GUIDE (CONT'D) Huge, yellow, slab-like things. Large as office buildings. Silent as birds. They hung in the air exactly the way that bricks don't. CUT TO: EXT. ARTHUR'S HOUSE - DAY They've already knocked a hole all the way through Arthur's house and are on the other side, smiling the way you do when you get to break something on purpose. ARTHUR is screaming in impotent fury. As he screams, his anger increases and he jumps up and down, frothing at the mouth. ARTHUR DENT You pin-striped barbarians! I'll sue you for every penny you've got. I'll have you hung, and drawn and quartered, and whipped, and boiled, and chopped up into little bits! And then... He falters. Even that isn't enough. What else could he do? A loud rumbling noise starts to build as does the wind. ARTHUR DENT (CONT'D) And then I'll take all the little bits and I'll jump on them! And I'll keep jumping on them until... Until you've had enough. And then I'll keep on jumping on them until I get blisters or- The noise and wind are too much. He looks up to vent his anger at the enormous yellow ship roaring slowly by. ARTHUR DENT (CONT'D) What the hell's that? Ford runs up, rummaging through his satchel, not even looking at the sky. FORD PREFECT (yelling a little over the noise) It's a Vogon constructor fleet. ARTHUR DENT A what? FORD PREFECT It's a fleet of flying saucers. I've been trying to tell you. Arthur's phone rings, as does the phone of everyone on the construction crew. They all take their phones down and look at them. Arthur's phone says: CALL FROM VOGON CAPTAIN. He answers and the face of a horrid, squishy, green alien with tiny eyes appears. VOGON CAPTAIN People of Earth, your attention please. Ford finds what he's looking for and takes it out. It's a black metal rod. He flips it and it unrolls into the air like a segmented party horn that stretches far longer than it should for its size. A light blinks at the end. Ford shakes Arthur. FORD PREFECT Arthur. Arthur! ARTHUR DENT (hysterically calm) Ford, I'm going to go lie down. FORD PREFECT There's no time. Grab a hold of this! He does as he's told and they both vanish. CUT TO: EXT. PARK - DAY Dozens of people are standing around, watching their phones. VOGON CAPTAIN (v. o.) This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Hyperspace Planning Council. CUT TO: INT. SUBWAY - CONTINUOUS The crowd is looking at their phones, oblivious to the fact their train is waiting. VOGON CAPTAIN (v.o.) As you are aware, the plans for the development of the hyperspace lanes in your area of the galaxy require building a bypass through your star system. INT. VOGON SHIP - CONTINUOUS The green captain, sitting on something that looks disturbingly like a squashed deer, continues his speech. He's talking at a screen showing the planet moving under them. VOGON CAPTAIN Sadly, your planet has been scheduled for demolition. INT.PUB - CONTINUOUS The patrons are staring at their phones. The BARMAN, watching and holding his with one hand lowers a paper bag over his head with the other. VOGON CAPTAIN The process will take two of your Earth minutes. EXT. STREET - CONTINUOUS Dozens of people staring at their phones. FENCHURCH, the woman from earlier, runs through the crowd, the only person not looking at a phone. FENCHURCH (furious she can't get their attention) I figured it out! I figured it all out! The whole planet is just one big com... She stares up at the sky where the ships are aiming giant weapons, crackling with energy, down at them. A line of code appears over her head: return ($Answer_To_Ultimate_Question); FENCHURCH (CONT'D) (resigned) Oh, shit. EXT. SPACE - CONTINUOUS The Earth explodes.