John Callahan was a dedicated alcoholic when he had a life-changing accident that left him paralyzed.
Post-accident, the path to sobriety isn’t exactly direct. Between the struggle to accept his new limitations, learning to live in a chair, caring for his broken body, and searching for the mother who gave him up at birth, there are a lot of reasons to drink. Of course, there’s always a reason to drink. Only when he truly embraces the value of AA, with the help of group leader Donny (Jonah Hill), does he start to imagine a future for himself. And he finds a healthy way to channel his anger and his energy and his wonderment: cartoons.
Callahan is injured enough that he cannot grasp a pen but he manages somehow to manipulate a felt-tip pen between two mangled hands and he finds inspiration in his life to create funny, and often controversial cartoons. His student paper sees fit to publish him and from there he develops a national following.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot is a line ripped from one of his own cartoons; the movie is adapted from Callaghan’s memoir. Director Gus Van Sant wants to say something about the healing power of art but the movie itself reads more like a tribute to support systems and the importance of forgiveness without dipping into the considerable well of inspirational cliches.
It’s a dark comedy, as you can imagine, but between Jack Black, Jonah Hill, and an orange-haired Joaquin Phoenix wielding his wheel chair like a bat on wheels, there’s some appreciated levity to all the drama. It’s an off-beat comedy about an off-beat guy. Phoenix is irrepressible.
Sean didn’t care for the movie – he felt not much had happened. I liked it well enough – I liked the unexpected performances from the likes of Beth Ditto, Carrie Brownstein, and Kim Gordon. I liked that Callaghan’s dark vein of humour is kept in tact throughout transformation, that he doesn’t become some sort of saint, merely the same caustic guy with a new lease on life. I liked that his past is never treated like an excuse – not that I’m not sympathetic to his victimhood but I like that he finds his salvation elsewhere, that he’s allowed to not solve the puzzle of his childhood before finding peace in his present. The 12 steps are not equally cinematic, but I felt Phoenix’s charismatic performance carried us through. Obviously Sean disagreed, so I guess I’d call this a mixed-bag review. It’s not for everyone.
I will see it Jay! ❤
I like the sound of this one.
This one appeals to me.
I want to see this as I do like Gus Van Sant a lot though I’m aware that his last few features haven’t been very good.
For a long time, I didn’t give Phoenix the credit he deserves but he is very interesting to watch. I think, I’ll give it a watch because of him but the review ( the duality of opinions, in particular) kind of confirmed what I thought when I first heard about this movie.
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I believe I’ve heard of this guy (the guy it’s based on). Fascinating story.
sorry Sean, i’m with Jay on this one! just watched it and loved it… you’re right, it really wasn’t about the drawing at all, but just a beautiful portrayal of redemption and just dealing with your shit. those damn kids at the end there. they were just so nice. i cried. phoenix was great as usual, but i thought hill was fantastic- wish he was more in the conversation for best supporting actor at the oscars!
I’m intrigued. I like the cast and the director.
Yeah, I think a lot of people sort of overlook Joaquin, but he really is talented, and so was his brother River. Is there an acting gene? Anyway, I want to look this guy up who the character’s based on, ’cause I’m curious about his life. Did he have a terrible upbringing or what? Because I’m adopted, and I’m always so glad I never went too bonkers over it and wonder what the tipping point for others is. One thing: I do think boys are hit harder by it, for some reason, than girls. It would make an interesting study.
Saw the trailer for this a while back and while it looks interesting enough, it is one that I would watch had I turned on the TV and there it was. Not something I would go looking for.