NOTE: This Spoiler was sent in by Crimson Tide who says: "...Hitchhiker is truly a sci-fi fan's delight, with so many classic and new-age elements shook up like a martini that bubbles with humor and creativity."
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (hereafter the Guide) takes us on a zany romp throughout the vastness of space beginning with a doomed and expendable planet called Earth. The story is led on by a narrator who translates the infinite wisdom contained within the Guide into context that the average Earthman can easily understand. One of these average Earthmen is Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), who one fateful morning wakes up to find his small house nestled in the English countryside surrounded by a mob of bulldozers. His home has been marked for demolition due to the construction of a new highway, butArthur won't give up his home without a last stand and so he lays himself stoically in front of the roaring machines. As luck would have it at that moment, Arthur's best friend on Earth and overall nice guy Ford Prefect (Mos Def) arrives on his bike laden with beer and snacks for the hungry demolition crew, who spare Arthur's house for the moment. But Ford tells Arthur that his home is not the only one scheduled to be destroyed that day. In fact there are only a few minutes left before Earth itself is annihilated, so Ford rushes his perplexed friend to the local pub for a final pint or two before the end. He then confesses to Arthur that he is in fact not from this planet at all but rather from a tiny world somewhere near Betelgeuse
While Ford seems to be taking the impending doom quite well, a bewildered Arthur can only fret about his house and the girl he met at a costume party a few weeks' earlier. Her name is Trisha McMillan (Zooey Deschanel) and she charmed Arthur by suggesting they run off together to Madagascar, but their meeting was interrupted by a strange spaced-out hippie who, according to Arthur, offered to take Trisha for a ride on his spaceship. Having lost her and about to lose his home, Arthur runs back to his place only to find a pile of rubble. Just then an enormous object engulfs the skyit is one of the ships that make up the gargantuan Vogon fleet of demolishers. Now hovering directly above where Arthur's home once stood, the commander of this bureaucratic and bloated alien race announces to the world that it is about to be history. Ford then grabs on to Arthur and uses his thumb to "hitchhike" themselves onto the giant vessel mere seconds before Earth goes up in a flash. Now stranded on a Vogon ship, Arthur first discovers the Guide and all the information within it, and that his intergalactic buddy is an active contributor to the Guide's index. Armed only with a towel, Ford tries to hitchhike off of the ship but soon the pair is rounded up by Vogon guards who present them to their commander. It seems the Vogons won't do anything unless they receive written permission to do so and they are also terrible at reciting poetry. After some brief torture caused by the commander's poem, Ford and Arthur are dumped off the ship straight into the vacuum of space with no hope for survival until they are miraculously picked up by a passing spherical spacecraft. This happens to be the same craft, known as the Heart of Gold, which was recently stolen by Galactic President Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) which half the known universe, including the Vogons, is hunting down. Trisha (now called Trillian, a name she came up with by combining her first and last name), who escaped the demise of Earth by going with Zaphod, is also onboard.
Totally unprepared to operate such an advanced and complex ship that he has stolen, Zaphod sends his other assistant, Marvin, the manic depressive robot (voiced by Alan Rickman), to fetch the hitchhikers.
Arthur is abruptly reintroduced to the woman of his dreams and the same guy who tried to take her away from him at the party, who also happens to be an old friend of Ford. After a rocky first encounter, Zaphod manages to keep Arthur and Trillian apart long enough so that they don't share what they know about the fate of the Earth. Marvin could care less about anything besides his own misery; he resents not being programmed with the same pleasant disposition as the ship's central computer and its doors which open and shut with a relaxed sigh. Just then the Vogon fleet, coming out of hyperspace, nearly captures the Heart of Gold but the heroes luckily escape. Zaphod claims that he is attempting to secure his place in eternal galactic lore by locating the fabled supercomputer known as Deep Thought (voiced by Helen Mirren), and more specifically, ask it the ultimate question: what is the meaning of life? Deep Thought, as the Guide explains, was built seven and a half millions years before on a planet called Magrathea just for that question. When asked, it responded with the number 42, leaving millions of its pilgrims irate. Apparently another computer was to be built elsewhere in the universe to devise a more appropriate question to ask of Deep Thought, and Zaphod is trying to find Magrathea and determine where this other Deep Thought is hidden. But he happens to have no navigation skills so he wings it across space, paying more attention to himself and Trillian. Zaphod also has two heads, one on top of another hidden under his collar, and a third arm that juts out of his chest whenever he feels like mixing some drinks. While Trillian demonstrates to Arthur some of the more fantastic accoutrements that make up the ship, some Earth mice stowing away inside Trillian's backpack are let out, unnoticed, into the ship.
According to the Guide, the Heart of Gold has what is called an "improbability drive" which allows it to bypass the astronomical distances between points in space by passing through every conceivable stage of matter; the first example of both spacecraft and crew being transformed into living yarn. But Zaphod's coordinates have not brought them to Magrathea as he had hoped, but instead to a planet ruled by the mysterious Humma Kavula (John Malkovich), the man that Zaphod barely defeated in the presidential election after a heated rivalry. The new president feels like settling the score once and for all with his arch-enemy and so they descend onto this dark and dingy world. Arthur gets his first look a variety of species other than the Vogons while Ford gets himself reacquainted with the local tavern and a former flame. Once inside Kavula's palace, Zaphod tries not to gloat too much about his victory and asks Kavula how to get to Magrathea.
Seeing an opportunity, the crafty Kavula reveals he has the coordinates of the long-lost world and will give them to his rival provided that he bring back a special gun hidden somewhere on Magrathea. Zaphod, thinking he has gotten the better of the deal, agrees but Kavula requires some collateral to ensure that the president won't back out. So Zaphod is restrained as one of his heads is decapitated and displayed on Kavula's proud mantle of trophies, with the word "Stupid" and an arrow up sign written below its chin. In no mood to stay any longer, Arthur and Trillian head back to the ship carrying their one-headed leader only to run into a battalion of Vogon soldiers. The Galactic Vice-president (Anna Chancellor) has been working alongside the Vogon fleet in their goal to recapture the "kidnapped" president and she now has him in front of her, but an ever-feisty Zaphod is not ready to return to reality and he fights back. The Vogon lasers consistently miss their targets as Arthur scurries for cover, while Ford leaps into action after rejoining the group. However, Trillian decides to pretend she is holding Zaphod hostage and so she grabs a nearby aerosol can and holds it up to his neck, feigning a threat at the Vogons. It almost works until the Vogons swarm them and manage to grab Trillian as their prisoner. With no choice but to return to their ship, Arthur and the others blast off. Zaphod is ready to find Magrathea and Deep Thought but Arthur refuses to go anywhere else before rescuing Trillian, and a light-headed Zaphod (no pun intended) relents. But by this time the mice that had been accidentally let loose have chewed their way through the main circuits of the benevolent main computer, causing serious damage. Their next stop is planet Vogsphere, home of the Vogons and a unique subterranean race of shovels that greet the heroes upon their arrival. Ford places a special thinking cap, powered by lemons, on Zaphod's remaining head so that he can be at least a little cognizant of their plight. Meanwhile, Trillian is being interrogated by the Vogons who can find no record of the planet she once called home, Earth. It is then that she learns the horrible truth about Earth and even more shocking than that: it was Zaphod who approved the demolition of her world. As if things couldn't get any worse, she has been sentenced to be eaten by a hideous monster for her crime of kidnapping the president. Arthur, Zaphod, and Ford burst into a Vogon filing office and are forced to wait in line before talking to someone about Trillian. After filling out two forms of prisoner release, Trillian is freed just in the nick of time. She thanks Zaphod for his help with a nice slap on the face. The Vogon high council watches helplessly as the crew makes their getaway aboard their escape pod, but their inevitable chase is delayed by a convenient lunch break.
Back on the Heart of Gold, Zaphod makes another hyperspace jump which finally brings him to the place he has been dreaming of: Magrathea. A holographic transmission from the planet announces that it is closed off to visitors, the ship proceeds to the surface only to be greeted by two nuclear missiles. After some aerial dodging, Arthur decides the only way to escape the missiles is to engage the improbability drive, to which Zaphod protests would be too dangerous. Undaunted, Arthur activates the drive which somehow transforms the warheads into a sperm whale and a bowl of petunias that plummet to the icy surface of Magrathea. Once they land, our heroes come across a series of frozen portals which instantly send someone to a different point on the planet. After some arguing among the group about which portal to take, Trillian enters one and disappears. Zaphod and Ford follow her to the dismay of Arthur, but when he tries to run through it the gateway vanishes leaving him to mope alongside the always-moping Marvin. They are soon discovered an odd fellow wearing a long coat who stammers on about his name, Slartibartfast (Bill Nighy). He takes Arthur to a facility where Slartibartfast and his associates have been designing planetary worlds for eons, including Earth itself. Riding in a special conveyor, he shows Arthur the massive universal foundry where all planets are built from scratch. Slartibartfast had a significant hand in the construction of Earth, especially the land of Norway, and he takes an astonished Arthur on a tour of Earth mark two, the exact duplicate of our planet. Meanwhile, Zaphod, Ford and Trillian have found Deep Thought and the president wastes no time in asking her the ultimate question. The great computer still does not have a suitable answer and is rather consumed in watching TV. All she reveals to the group is that the other supercomputer was built on a planet somewhere in the vicinity of where Ford and Arthur were originally picked up.
Before they head back, Zaphod looks for and finds the gun that Humma Kavula wants so badly. This is no ordinary gun as he soon discovers, for when Trillian points it at Zaphod and fires, he begins to see things from her point of view. After firing a few more times at the president, she realizes through his ranting that she has loved Arthur all along. Slartibartfast has given Arthur memorable glimpses of the preparation of the second Earth (oceans being filled, Ayers Rock being painted a coat of bright red, etc.) up until their final destination: a quaint two-story white house nestled in the English countryside.
Arthur is amazed to find his house restored exactly how he remembered it, except that inside feasting and waiting for him are Ford, Trillian and Zaphod. The crew happily reunites for a delicious bite to eat and a spot of tea that was prepared by two talking mice, the same that had wreaked havoc on the Heart of Gold. These mice promptly inform Arthur that they belong to the dominant species of Earth, as was always the case. Humans are apparently the third most intelligent race behind dolphins, who escaped the obliteration of Earth days before it occurred. Old Earth was the source of the supercomputer that Deep Thought spoke of before it was annihilated by the Vogons. The mice tell Arthur that the new Earth is ready to be activated as soon as they possess the last remaining piece of the puzzle: his brain.
Suddenly his friends all slip into a deep sleep from ingesting the food, as Arthur is locked into his chair to be lobotomized. Just as a sharp drill is about to bore its way into his skull, he breaks free and crushes the mice with a helmet. Their flattened bodies now appear as two little, but dead, angels. Arthur wakes the others and they flee the house only to once again be surrounded by an army of Vogons. Not willing to let him get away a second time, the Vice-president and Vogon commander give the order to open fire. Arthur, Trillian and Zaphod take cover inside Arthur's old trailer next to his house, while Ford holds off the Vogons with his towel. Marvin, totally indifferent to the hail of lasers raining down upon them, steps right into the fray and is hit in the back of his enormous head. It seems that our heroes are done for when Marvin suddenly rises from the ground and fires the Magrathean mind gun at the Vogons. The entire alien host is now crippled emotionally and so depressed that they lay down their arms at once. Slartibartfast takes care of cleaning up the mess while Arthur and Trillian discuss their future together. They decide that while having their home planet back is wonderful, they still have a lot more to learn about the galaxy with the help of the Guide. Seeing how the Heart of Gold can take them anywhere, Arthur, Trillian, Zaphod, Ford and Marvin take off for a feast at a little restaurant on the edge of the galaxy
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