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Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot


Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Jack Black, Mark Webber, Beth Ditto, Udo Kier

Director: Gus Van Sant

Originally conceived as a vehicle for Robin Williams, this is a study of famed cartoonist John Callahan, now played by Phoenix, an alcoholic loner whose spectacular lifetime bender was halted in its tracks when he and an equally drunken friend (Black) are involved in a car crash that leaves John a paraplegic.

Joining an independently-run AA group headed by the almost Christ-like guru Donnie (Hill, almost unrecognisable under a mat of hair until you hear that distinctive voice), John gradually comes to terms with how his life must evolve: his compulsive doodles soon become darkly funny if mildly offensive Thurber-like creations that begin to earn him some kind of living.

The chameleon-like Phoenix is excellent here, although if anything there's rather too much of his character, with similar actions being repeated over and again, as the movie battles not to run like an advert for Alcoholics Anonymous.

An underused Mara struggles with her Swedish accent, but Black reminds us that, despite all those Goosebumps-type films, he really can act - notably in a wrenching 'reunion' scene towards the end.

The title refers to one of Callahan's scabrously entertaining cartoons, in which two western lawmen on horseback survey an empty wheelchair over the eponymous caption.

David Quinlan

USA 2018. UK Distributor: MUBI (Amazon Studios). Colour by Cinelicious.
115 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 23 Oct 2018