Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot Review

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot - Theatrical Poster

Inspirational biopics are about a dime a dozen in Hollywood. As you can imagine, studios release them to inspire people and use the film as Oscar bait. There are times when the film is so good that it wins the Oscar for Best Picture (see: Braveheart). Other times, the films aren’t that just mediocre (see: McFarland, USA). The story of cartoonist John Callahan is one of those inspirational tales. His life is the epitome of a phoenix rising from the ashes. But is Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot one of those Oscar-worthy biopics or is it simply a mediocre film?

Unfortunately, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot has a lot of pacing and editing issues and gets dull at times. Nevertheless, the film is a fantastic vehicle for Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill to showcase their tremendous acting ability.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot follows the incredible true story of cartoonist John Callahan. After a severe car accident leaves him as a paraplegic, Callahan must find ways to cope with his tragic situation. When alcohol begins to take its toll on him, his girlfriend convinces him to check into a treatment center. It’s here that he begins to find a new lease on life through the creation of his offensively funny cartoons.

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot - Jack Black & Joaquin Phoenix

Although Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is a funny title, the film isn’t the feel-good comedy that you expect it to be. The film is a serious drama about the struggles of cartoonist John Callahan. Not to mention, the cartoons that Callahan draws aren’t the PC type either. Thus, it might offend those who easily get offended.

But that’s part of the appeal of Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. John Callahan’s life is basically a hot mess. Callahan has gone through a lot of struggles, and yet he finds solace in drawing offensive cartoons for newspapers. At the same time, he pokes fun at his paraplegic situation. Admittedly, there’s an inherent sweetness to that. Not to mention, his struggles might be a source of inspiration and guidance to people as well. It’s definitely the kind of story where it might help you overcome your own personal hardships. If you think your life is bad, it’s nowhere as bad as John Callahan’s.

At the same time, the film tends to drag and doesn’t flow well either. In other words, the film is disjointed and bogged down by a needlessly complex timeline. The film shifts the timeline around a lot so audiences will have to pay close attention to what’s going on. Unfortunately, the film also gets miserably annoying as well. There are plenty of long scenes that establish Callahan’s struggles. The phrase “beating a dead horse” definitely comes to mind here. Nevertheless, there is a good amount of character development for John Callahan. As confusing as the editing is, you can still see Callahan progressing as the film goes on.

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot - Joaquin Phoenix & Jonah Hill

But this is essentially Joaquin Phoenix’s film. No other character gets the same amount of development that Callahan does. Thankfully, Joaquin Phoenix brings his A-game to Don’t Worry. He beautifully portrays John Callahan with a lot of emotion and vulnerability. As strange as it sounds, Phoenix also gives a physical performance even as a paraplegic. There’s a certain amount of physicality to giving a performance like this and Phoenix does it all remarkably.

However, the biggest surprise comes from Jonah Hill. Each dramatic role he takes shows you how versatile he really is. Not to mention, this is a very different role than what we’re used to. He’s much more mesmerizing and zen-like in this role. In addition, he really hits all of the emotions towards the end of the film.

As for the rest of the cast, they’re barely in the film. Rooney Mara did a fine job as Annu despite not having much screen time. Sadly, Jack Black is miscast as Dexter. He sticks out like a sore thumb and can’t seem to hit those emotional beats.

Overall, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is a messy yet touching biopic about John Callahan. Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill shine the brightest but the film never fully reaches the same level as their stars. Which is a shame because Callahan’s story is such an inspirational tale about overcoming the crappiest of odds to become someone extraordinary.

Rating: 3/5 atoms

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