Film Review: Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot
Director: Gus Van Sant
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, Carrie Brownstein, Beth Ditto, Kim Gordon, Tony Greenhand, Ronnie Adrian, Udo Kier, Mark Webber
Running Time: 114
Australian Distributor: Transmission Films
It’s been a lean few years for Gus Van Sant fans, with the director’s efforts mostly divided between well-meant flops like Sea Of Trees and journeyman work on something like Promised Land.
After a car accident that leaves him paralysed, John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix) tries to become sober and finds he has a talent for drawing funny yet often controversial cartoons.
The title, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, comes from one of Callahan’s cartoons showing some cowboys looking at an abandoned wheelchair and saying they’ll soon catch the guy. This sort of wry, and sometimes near the knuckle, sense of humour is prevalent throughout Callahan’s cartoons, many of which are animated and featured in the film. It’s also very much the sense of humour that’s running through the film, dark and sometimes weird and self-deprecating.
Joaquin Phoenix is naturally great, managing to make Callahan irritating and charming in equal measure. Even before the accident and he becomes a little bitter, Callahan is a rude alcoholic that barely functions. After his accident, he’s not much better until he finally takes steps to become sober.
He encounters Donnie (Jonah Hill), a recovering alcoholic and AA meeting leader. Hill is brilliant, and at times he even manages to outshine Phoenix, as he plays a wealthy gay hippie who is both hilarious and astute.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is more of a character study than a film with a cohesive and compelling plot, but it manages to be a perfectly serviceable biopic. Phoenix and Hill are great but they’re not enough to make this a memorable film.
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