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When Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) loses his home—and planet—to an intergalactic freeway, he and best friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def) thumb a ride on a hovering alien craft to roam hyperspace and answer the “ultimate question.” Hatched in the go-go atmosphere of the late 70s, Douglas Adams's sci-fi novel met fears of nuclear holocaust with a cheeky optimism about the endless possibilities for renewal—one reason director Garth Jennings's film adaptation (from a screenplay by Adams and Karey Kirkpatrick) has such a goofy feel-good quality. Mind-bending visuals help along this giddy, imaginative romp through the slow patches. Although Sam Rockwell, John Malkovich, and Zooey Deschanel add American notes, the overall flavor is British: space may be big—really big—but at the end of the galaxy a nice cuppa waits. PG, 104 min.

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