I knew two things going into this. I knew it was about someone in a wheelchair, so the title pointed as a certain style of humor that I was feeling. The second thing was that Jonah Hill costars in a dramatic role. That there is enough for me to see this.
Written (the screenplay at least) and directed by Gus Van Sant (remember him from Good Will Hunting), this film is about the life of John Callahan. Specifically, it’s about his road to sobriety after a drunken incident leaves him paralyzed. We follow him thru the AA steps and watch him discover his passion for the cartoons he’d draw that would become his legacy.
The story took a little bit to get going, and it wasn’t until about the second act that I understood what it was trying to be. That’s really my only gripe with this, but it was a disruptive one. That quirky humor I was expecting was there, maybe a bit more subdued than I’d hoped, but still enjoyable.
What this film was really about was the performances. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Callahan, and gives one of the best performances of his career. I say this as someone who goes back and forth as to whether or not I like him. The physicality and emotional depth of his work was incredible. And of course, as expected, Jonah Hill delivered. Obviously, I woulda liked him to have a bigger role, but it wasn’t really his story. However his final scene will bring a tear to your eye. Oh Jack Black is in this as well, and he too had a final scene that took my breath away. I haven’t seen that side of him before, but now would love to see more.
If you like Good Will Hunting, then you might notice some parallels here. It def feels like a Gus Van Sant film, with a delicate attention to relationships. The Hill/Phoenix relationship very much mirrors that of Williams/Damon, and it’s beautiful to watch that grow. That right there was what made it worthwhile to have seen this.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot – \m/ \m/ \m/