Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot: Not a Far Side Story

Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far On Foot (2018)

Director – Gus Van Sant

Writer – Gus Van Sant

Starring – Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara

Rating – R

Genre – Drama

Metascore – 66/100

Rotten Tomatoes – 75%

Warning: This is not a Far Side comic strip. In fact it is far from that. It is the story of their creator, John Callahan, before the comic strips that is. John Callahan was a compulsive, quadriplegic, alcoholic with abandonment issues. Not only was he depressed, but he was not quick to forgive those who had wronged him in the past, including himself. Callahan ends up joining an Alcoholics Anonymous group that quickly starts to unearth deep trauma that had developed in the past, leading up to his struggle with alcohol abuse. At times that the heaviness of Callahan’s depression was too on the nose. It seemed to almost overpower the rest of the story. This film was witty, with a few “laugh out loud” moments, but they seemed to be for the enjoyment of a select few in the audience.

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The themes of the story were muddled. When I last counted there were close to twelve themes that were present, alike to the twelve steps to sobriety through AA. Some of them were very life-giving, while some were lacking in value. It ranged everywhere from redemption to imaginary gymnasts on the front lawn, symbolizing death, which confused the progression of the story.

Two themes that weren’t touched on as much as they should have been were John Callahan’s road to illustrations and the search for his mother. The opening line of the film, and the most repetitive part of the film as a whole was his description of her; “I only know 3 things about my mother. She was Irish-American. She had red hair, and she was a school teacher. Oh—and that she didn’t want me, so I guess that makes 4 things.” It would have made a great influence in Callahan’s character development, but instead it was merely brushed over.

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Joaquin Phoenix has complete control of the emotional range of his character, and shows off his ability as an actor in this role. Jonah Hill expounded his character list with a role as an eccentric, rich, gay, AA sponsor. He was the most grounded, and the least grounded character in the whole film. Rooney Mara  as Callahan’s girlfriend Annu, executed her role with such grace that it made you want to have a person such as her in your life. She cared so much for Callahan and had the right thing to say when he needed to hear it.

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The dialogue of the film was profound in almost a sarcastic way. It played with the way you think and react to trauma and circumstance, and did so through profanity. The success of the movie is purely based on how you take it. Like John Callahan, if you embrace the limitations and find the small, meaningful moments, then by all means it was a success.

Author: Addison Kubicek

499 Rating: 5 / 10

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