Monday, January 27, 2014

The Answer Man (Arlen Faber) (2009) [R] ***

Arlen Faber (Jeff Daniels) is a famous author; twenty years ago he penned Me & God, an account of his personal crisis, the questions he asked, and the answers that God ostensibly provided. Unfortunately, today Arlen is a hermit and a curmudgeon; he is totally lacking in social skills, he dislikes his celebrity status, avoids the public, and hasn't done a public appearance or book signing in twenty years. Now, however, his back is giving out and, in desperation, he seeks out Elizabeth (Lauren Graham) a local chiropractor, and the single mother of a preteen son.

Arlen is also trying to dispose of his unwanted collection of spiritual books, but Kris (Lou Taylor Pucci) the owner of a local used bookstore, and a recovering alcoholic, is virtually broke, and refuses to take them. Given this setup, it takes little imagination to see how the film's plot will unfold, how these three people will come together to help one another grow.

This is the first screenplay and directorial effort for writer/director John Hindman, and while there is a clear story arc, the motives and actions of the characters are not well thought out, and the screenplay feels like a first draft. It's as though Hindman had a general concept, but had not asked the tough questions about what the characters were doing, and why. The result is that the film feels like a Hallmark or Lifetime made-for-television effort, although the production values are very good, and Daniels and Graham do the best with what they are given. In the final analysis, if you enjoy quirky romantic comedy-dramas like Still Breathing with Brendan Fraser and Joanna Going, Life or Something Like It with Angelina Jolie and Edward Burns, or Phenomenon with John Travolta and Kyra Sedgwick, you might enjoy The Answer Man, also released as Arlen Faber

Labels: comedy, romance   
Internet Movie Database    
Metacritic 44/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=51, viewers=60)    

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