The Answer Man
As part of the current season's spate of philosophical lifestyle pap movies like "Away We Go" and "$9.99," first-time-director (oh how I rue those words) John Hindman trips at every step. The never-quite-right Jeff Daniels plays washed-up new age author Arlen Faber, whose popular spiritual memoir "Me & God" is on the verge of a 20th anniversary reprint edition. Arlen lives as a recluse in a Philadelphia townhouse, afraid to confront his cultish fans who seek him out to provide meaning to their pathetic lives. One such rudderless person is recently released rehab patient Kris (Lou Taylor Pucci) who runs a used bookstore in Arlen's neighborhood, and cuts a deal with Arlen to take books in return for asking Arlen idiotic questions about the meaning of life. Arlen's bad back lures him out of his house and into the healing hands of local single-mom-chiropractor Elizabeth (Lauren Graham). Arlen gets around to dishing out some old-school criticism to an elementary school teacher more than a little unclear on how to treat Elizabeth's seven-year-old son. Hindman is the kind of filmmaker who uses the pretentious au currant term "wheelhouse" in describing himself. Now you know.
(Magnolia Pictures) Rated R. 95 mins. (C-) (Two Stars)
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