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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Talks a great deal about alcoholism and the 12-step program, especially the steps in which a person must apologize and forgive. Yet the main character still has some problems with selfishness, and the movie seems to celebrate his irreverence.
Positive Role Models
While a successful artist, Callahan isn't really a positive role model, given his alcoholism, selfishness, and the general offensiveness of his work (depending on your point of view). But he does overcome a life-changing disability and find success.
Violence & Scariness
Some arguing and shouting. Wheelchair crashes; its quadriplegic occupant is tossed into the street. Serious car crash (caused by drunk driving) depicted in cartoon drawing. Last-minute rescue on train tracks; wheelchair crushed by train.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Graphic sex scene shows a woman riding on top of a man, with moaning. A pornographic pen is briefly seen (it shows an image of a woman performing oral sex on a man). The main character performs oral sex on a woman. Topless woman in nightclub. Characters watch a pornographic film (topless woman, naked bottom). Frequent, strong sex talk/innuendo.
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Extremely strong language, with uses of "f--k," "t-ts," "s--t," "a--hole," "c--k," "d--k," "penis," "ass," "goddamn," "son of a bitch," "cunnilingus," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The main character and several supporting characters are alcoholics. They're shown drunk, craving alcohol, vomiting, going through withdrawals, etc. Characters drive drunk. AA meetings are attended. Cigarette smoking. Reference to Valium.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot is a biopic about irreverent cartoonist John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix). As directed by Gus Van Sant, it's loose, freewheeling, and enjoyable, with strong supporting performances. It's also very mature, dealing frankly and frequently with alcohol abuse, alcoholism, craving, withdrawals, and treatment. Characters also smoke. Language includes constant use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "c--k," "t-ts," and more. There are a few brief but graphic sex scenes: Women are shown grinding and moaning, and there's oral sex, a pornographic pen, and explicit sex talk. Topless women and naked bottoms are also briefly shown. As for violence, characters shout and argue fairly often, and there are reckless wheelchair crashes. A more serious car crash is depicted via animated cartoon. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director Gus Van Sant takes a dizzying approach to this biopic, using shifting timelines and an anarchic tone to tell Callahan's story, though supporting actors like Black and Hill come out sharpest. The kind of material tackled in Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot is usually considered awards bait and thus treated with high-minded, noble seriousness, but Van Sant bathes his film in an orange, sun-streamed light, giving it an appealing looseness that's uncharacteristic in his work. Even though it has much in common with Van Sant's last biopic, Milk (2008), it's far more rambunctious.
Scenes of Callahan zooming around at top speed in his electric wheelchair -- Phoenix's face stoically taking in the breeze -- are exhilarating, even if Phoenix himself seems a little too serious for the role. He doesn't seem capable of coming up with Callahan's irreverent cartoons, which Van Sant animates and uses as transitions, and his performance only emphasizes the character's innate selfishness. (Robin Williams, who had been in Van Sant's Good Will Hunting, originally hoped to play the part.) Mara doesn't have much to do in her role, but both Black and Hill are miraculous -- Black emotionally breaking down, and Hill flashing a kind of rock-star confidence in his eyes.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.