Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot Movie Review
The great thing about people in wheelchairs is that they can’t get far on foot. Should you be in pursuit of one. Which I’m not. I’m just saying.
In Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, Joaquin Phoenix delivers one of the best performances of his career—as does Jonah Hill—as an alcoholic cartoonist with a severed spine and a love of driving his wheelchair as fast as it can go.
The movie came and went from theaters on tiptoes (or really stealthy rubber wheels), garnering acclaim but not much in the way of real buzz. Now on Blu-ray, I expected the drama to end up in the “that was pretty good but let’s move on” category, a biopic about some guy named John Callahan and his struggles and successes. It would be an interesting watch. Nothing more.
The thing is, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is, quietly, one of the best movies of the year.
Callahan, as depicted in the film, is a man of vices—notably alcohol, which not only makes him angry and pathetic but also is the primary reason he lost his ability to use his legs, body and most of his arms. He is also is a man of unapologetic humor, a continued lust for attractive women, and ultimately a renewed sense of life.
In other words, he’s a complex character—both physically and as a personality—and Phoenix revels in the role. As great as Phoenix has been in other films, he seems at ease in Don’t Worry, fully immersed in the character and dedicated to bringing Callahan to the big screen in a beautiful, organic way.
Hill, in a supporting girl, also gives what could be his best performance, playing Callahan’s slightly flamboyant sponsor who somehow is able to tackle serious topics while seemingly not having a care in the world.
That description is also what works for the movie as a whole. Written and directed by Gus Van Sant, Don’t Worry finds the perfect balance between seriousness and humor. A movie about a man losing his ability to walk—who is also a raging alcoholic—could easily become morose, or at the very least not know how to juggle all the funny things that happen in life with these very serious issues. Yet Van Sant, working from a book by Callahan, is almost flippant with what happens to his main character; he never shies away from the shitty stuff that happens, but is unwilling to let that shitty stuff affect the tone of the film nor define his subject.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot doesn’t have the flair you’d expect from award-worthy fare—perhaps the reason it came and went from theaters with little fanfare—but Van Sant’s filmmaking and the terrific performances captured within make this movie one of the best movies of the year.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.