starring Joaquin Phoenix, Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, Kathy Driscoll-Mohler
screenplay by Gus Van Sant, based on the book by John Callahan
directed by Gus Van Sant
by Angelo Muredda "I'm a sucker for quadriplegic movies," VARIETY critic Peter Debruge wrote of Gus Van Sant's Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot from Sundance, before criticism from disabled activists apparently inspired his editors to do some quiet and uncredited post-publication editing. Whatever its merits as a biopic of an outsider artist--dubious, given the cuddliness offensive of Danny Elfman's insistent score--or a "quadriplegic movie" (minimal, given that its subject, Oregon cartoonist John Callahan, was actually a paraplegic), Van Sant's return to movies people might conceivably care about is at least not so homogenous and tired as that backhanded praise suggests. It's hard to shake the feeling that the film is the belated two-birds-with-one-stone fulfilment of a business deal with Callahan, who died in 2010, and Robin Williams, who first optioned the story and once intended to play Callahan himself. Despite the whiff of old Tupperware leftovers that hangs about it, the film is pleasantly rumpled in the tradition of Van Sant's more interesting work--predictably boring in its rehashing of disability clichés, from casting to writing, yes, but formally unusual, and committed to the repetitive and potentially un-cinematic bootstrap work of self-improvement and forgiveness that movies about addicts and accident survivors tend to sail through.