Though it’s not lacking the manic energy of writer Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, the latest adaptation of the author’s book series, is missing something essential, even as it may seem that all of the essential elements are there.
There’s the titular sleuth (Samuel Barnett) and his unwilling friend/assistant Todd (Elijah Wood), who encounter coincidental oddities and odd coincidences as they wander in and out of mysterious circumstances. There’s an increasingly eccentric cast of supporting characters, every last one of whom is just oh-so witty. Well, that’s the intent anyway.
The shortcomings of the writing are most apparent in Dirk, who just by the nature of his character is the manic pixie dream detective. But unless his observations are insanely out-there yet surprisingly true, the entire conceit sinks with him. Barnett has the hardest job of the cast, but what ends up on the screen is one-note and far from charming.
The series’ attempts at cleverness never seem to end and ever undercut the work of someone as unstoppably likable as Wood. As a result, this Dirk Gently comes off as a screechy homage to Adams rather than channeling his wit and the big, silly heart hidden inside. C