The Answer Man

Year: 2009
Production Co: 120dB Films
Director: John Hindman
Writer: John Hindman
Cast: Jeff Daniels, Lauren Graham, Lou Taylor Pucci, Olivia Thirlby, Kat Dennings

A sweet and earnest effort but disappointing on the whole, the plot just not going anywhere really except to showcase Daniels' mastery of the craft of character. Here he plays a reclusive and crotchety writer who had a series of hit books decades before where he claimed God was giving him the answers to all life's questions.

He has little chance but to make his way out in the world when he throws his back out one day, crawling on his belly to the chiropractor he's seen down the road in the movie's funniest sequence. He doesn't count on falling for the pretty therapist who owns the practice (Graham) and before Arlen (Daniels) knows it he wants to spend more time with her, his previously inconvenient visits to the clinic a pleasure.

There's a secondary plot involving an indie bookstore owner (Pucci) who doesn't know where his life's going and who extorts answers out of Arlen in return for maintaining his anonymity, but it feels like it's from a different movie and isn't as engaging as Arlen's burgeoning relationship bringing him back to the world. Indie darlings Dennings and Thirlby are both in support roles but neither have much to do, kind of a waste of both their talents and respective beauty.

Ironically considering what a pleasure Daniels is to watch in any role, I also had a hard time getting a grip on the character. Arlen seems too acerbic and then too smart and caring what people think of him, his snide sarcasm disappearing by the halfway mark. In hindsight maybe it would have been a better role for Bill Murray.

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