"Close, But Ultimately Unsatisfying"
THE ANSWER MAN is the story of Arlen Faber (played by Jeff Daniels), a temperamental and misanthropic best-selling new age author who is thought by everyone to have the answers to all of life’s toughest questions. However, as his life collides with a single mom (played by Lauren Graham) and a recovering alcoholic (played by Lou Taylor Pucci), Faber realizes he is unable to answer anyone’s deepest spiritual questions, including his own.
As the 20th anniversary of Arlen’s best-selling book, ME AND GOD, draws near, the entire nation clamors to see if the reclusive author will make a public appearance and answer all of their burning questions from the past 20 years. His book, ME AND GOD, a purported Q&A conversation between Arlen and God, has been the leading spiritual book for an entire generation of people who seek the answers to questions such as, “Does prayer work?” and “Why is there evil in the world?”
Arlen’s life, though, is the dyspeptic polar opposite of the public’s perception of him as a balanced spiritual guru whose life is in perfect harmony with God. Much to his chagrin, the antisocial author is forced to interact with the outside world when his back goes out, and he must go to physical rehab with a chiropractic specialist, the lovely Elizabeth. As he connects with Elizabeth and the rest of the outside world, Arlen is also cornered into answering the existential questions of Kris, a young man struggling to remain sober as his father drinks himself to death. As the philosophies of his book slam against the realities of people’s pain, Arlen is forced to face the fact that he does not have all the answers and the best he can hope is merely asking life’s tough questions.
Overall, THE ANSWER MAN is enjoyable, funny, well written, and heartwarming. Each actor fully embraces their roles and creates empathetic characters with well-developed arcs. Jeff Daniels and Lauren Graham give very honest and simple performances, but the breakout star in this movie is Lou Taylor Pucci, who plays Kris, the young man struggling with alcoholism. His portrayal of a young man afraid to face life is incredibly moving.
Performances aside, in the final act of the movie, the writer delivers an ultimately unsatisfying ending by not having the courage to answer the deep questions as to whether or not God is still speaking to hurting people today. Instead, he veils the answer in New Age double-talk by pandering to post-modern spiritualists. The movie does not contain objectionable sexual or violent content. It does contain alcoholism and addiction, but in no way are they glorified.
Sadly, though, the movie suffers from having too much foul language. The foul language, along with the worldview problems and the unsatisfying ending, ultimately leave THE ANSWER MAN with questionable content.
(PaPa, FRFR, B, Ab, Ev, LLL, V, S, AA, DD, M) Mostly mixed pagan worldview with elements of syncretism from multiple false religions as well as biblical morality and references to God mixed with pagan philosophies in a New Age spiritualism called ME AND GOD, some negative comments about end times doctrine painting God as a monster who punishes bad people, New Age meditation depicted, and one comment about the evolutionary chart; 32 mostly strong obscenities and four profanities; light comedic violence includes man who throws his back out and must crawl through the streets of the city to the doctor’s office as well as young woman dressed up in a mascot costume falls over on the sidewalk; unmarried kissing; no nudity; alcohol use includes recovering alcoholic who attends AA meetings and must watch his father drink himself to death; depicted cigarette smoking in a few scenes; and, light miscellaneous immorality includes temperamental and misanthropic author/protagonist (who is supposed to be some kind of spiritual guru) is very cruel to his agent, his neighbors, his mailman and treats people with disrespect and anger, and single mother talks about her husband leaving her and her son.
THE ANSWER MAN stars actor Jeff Daniels as Arlen Faber, the temperamental and misanthropic best-selling New Age, fictional author of ME AND GOD. Because of his popular book, everyone thinks Arlen has the answers to life’s toughest questions. However, as his life collides with a single mom and a recovering alcoholic, Arlen realizes he is unable to answer anyone’s deepest spiritual questions, including his own.
THE ANSWER MAN is enjoyable, funny, and heartwarming. Each actor fully embraces their roles and creates empathetic characters with well-developed arcs. Performances aside, in the movie’s final act, the protagonist delivers an ultimately unsatisfying ending by not having the courage to answer the deep question as to whether or not God is still speaking to hurting people today. Instead, he hides the answer in New Age double-talk. The movie does not contain strong, immoral sexual or violent content. It does contain alcoholism and addiction, but in no way are they glorified. Sadly, though, the movie suffers from having too much foul language. The foul language, along with the worldview problems, New Age content and the unsatisfying ending, ultimately leave THE ANSWER MAN with questionable content.