On the rocky path to sobriety after a life-changing accident, John Callahan discovers the healing power of art, willing his injured hands into drawing hilarious, often controversial cartoons, which bring him a new lease on life.
Directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Joaquin Phoenix, ‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot’ is a sensitive biopic based on the memoirs of newspaper cartoonist John Callahan. Phoenix stars as Callahan, a recently paralyzed alcoholic who discovers a passion for drawing cartoons, producing material for several well known publications and newspapers. It’s a charming film that charts how Callahan came to terms with his disability, whilst also attempting to address his problems with alcoholism, stemming from a troubled childhood.
The film is well cast with some really strong supporting performances alongside Joaquin Phoenix, as good as ever, as Callahan himself. Jonah Hill is great as an AA group leader, sporting long hair and a beard in a kind of quasi-Jesus look, and Jack Black injects his usual energy as Callahan’s drinking buddy on the ill fated night that caused his disability. The film can get a little repetitive at times but it has a lot of heart and there’s an earnestness at play in watching a man fighting hard to recover and rebuild his life. I thought it balanced humour with the gravity of Callahan’s situation well and the tonal shifts are well handled by Van Sant.
Clunky title aside (hey, that’s the name of the memoir), ‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot’ is an enjoyable biopic that celebrates one man’s journey to overcoming not only his demons, but the obstacles thrown in his way, and it’s worth seeking out.
Directed By: Gus Van Sant
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, Mark Webber, Udo Kier, Kim Gordon, Beth Ditto and Carrie Brownstein