Everyone wants to meet Arlen Faber, the world famous author of the best-selling spiritual book "Me and God," but crotchety, disgruntled Arlen simply wants to be left alone - and so far he's been successful in keeping his identity a secret. But all that changes when troubled bookstore owner Kris Lucas discovers his home address and barters books for Arlen's words of wisdom, and a back injury leads the reclusive writer to begin dating chiropractor and overprotective single mother Elizabeth. As Arlen's relationships with his newfound friends begin to grow, he must come to terms with his past and the realization that he doesn't hold all the answers. Written by
The Massie Twins
The screenplay for this film was featured in the 2007 Blacklist; a list of the "most liked" unmade scripts of the year. See more »
After Arlen puts the 45 record on, he jostles the stereo when he has his first back spasm. The needle clearly bounces off of the record but the music continues playing. After he falls to the floor, a close up of the record still playing is shown. See more »
We would like to do a full exposé on Arlen Faber. It would coincide with the 20th anniversary release of Me and God. People want to read this story. I've read Me and God twelve times, for Christ's sake!
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When drama is rushed it can feel like the slowest thing in the world. The characters never get any time to breathe. The turmoil that they go through feels so compact, tidy, and meager that it's like your watching nothing at all. That's what it's like watching "The Answer Man", writer/director John Hindman's dramedy-romance about trying to find God and the answers to life's problems. The quest for life's answers seems like a subject done before and this movie is way too bland, stale, and unbelievable to really find the heart.
Jeff Daniels plays Arlen Faber, who 20 years ago wrote a book called "Me and God", centering around a conversation he had with the big man himself. The book was a mega-hit but nobody has ever really seen Faber in person. Perhaps because he's a reclusive, angry, stressed out asshole that hates people. He spends his days reading other self-help books and meditating; neither seems to lighten his miserable mood though. When he throws his back out one day, he meets a chiropractor named Elizabeth (Lauren Graham), an obsessive single mother trying to raise a young son. She has no idea who Arlen is at first but after reading the book, she seems to think that he is the one for her. Luckily he likes her too. Kris (Lou Taylor Pucci) completes this tripod of people. He's a recovering alcoholic, just out of rehab, managing a failing bookstore.
The whole thing follows James L. Brooks' "As Good as it Gets", without ever reaching a great movie, or even a good one. These people will come together and help each other but it's all done in such a weak and contrived way that none of it is effective. Arlen wants to get rid of some books so he makes a deal with Kris in exchange for some life answers. But can't Arlen just throw them away and not be bothered with Kris at all? And who is Arlen exactly? He changes from miserable crank to charming romantic lead with the snap of a finger. Saying he hates people in one scene and then taking on this silly relationship with Elizabeth where he shows her his monster action figure collection and befriends and acts as father to her young son are very schizophrenic and unbelievable. And Kris' failing business, his alcohol problem, Elizabeth's struggles raising a young son, and the daddy issues that Arlen, Kris and the son have are all given short shrift so that we can see a too-cute romance that never gets off the ground.
If Hindman had taken more risks and allowed us to empathize with the characters a little more, this movie would have been much better but it just feels like everyone is trying to shoot it and then move on. No care is given. Daniels tries. He's a good physical comedian and some of the movies best lines come at his most cranky. "I hope to find a cure for people who listen to techno" Arlen mumbles at one point. Graham has a nice smile but she's not called upon to do much. And Pucci tries to grapple with the weight of addiction but he seems more like a fifth wheel than a character and his plot line is just distracting.
"The Answer Man" looked like a mature, adult answer to some of the crappier romantic comedies coming out this year but it winds up getting it mostly wrong.
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