At the age of 21, John Callahan got into a car with a drunk friend, a decision that resulted in a car crash that left Callahan a quadriplegic. Unwilling to let that debilitating incident destroy his spirit, he subsequently became a cartoonist, churning out work — for 27 years in Portland’s Willamette Week — that was defined by its politically incorrect brashness, and which he created by holding his pen between both of his hands. Though he died in 2010 from complications from his condition, Callahan’s legacy of unique artistry and of refusing to let others define him solely by his disability continues to endure. And his life is now going to get the big-screen treatment courtesy of Joaquin Phoenix and director Gus Van Sant, whose upcoming biopic has just released its first trailer.
With a title (taken from one of Callahan’s memoirs) that conveys the self-deprecating wit of its subject, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot stars Phoenix as Callahan, who post-auto-accident endeavors to figure out how to move forward. Trapped in a wheelchair but still possessed of his sense of humor — as well as a sex drive — Callahan finds a way to fight his alcoholism, and cope with his situation, through drawing cartoons. It’s a saga that the above promo suggests is going to straddle the line between the heartbreaking and the absurd, as Van Sant appears to have shot his material with a low-budget aesthetic designed to create intimacy through proximity to his main character.
With an all-star cast that includes a shaggy, bearded Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, and Jack Black (here seen with and without hair), Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot has the potential to be a breakout hit at this summer’s box office.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot debuts in theaters on May 11.
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