The Answer Man is the story of Arlen Faber (Jeff Daniels), a man that talked to God and wrote a book about it. In his book, Me and GOD, Arlen answered all of life’s mysteries and then became one himself, hiding for 20 years to avoid as many people as possible. Arlen’s life as a hermit is interrupted when he meets two very different people: one Kris Lucas (Lou Taylor Pucci), a book store owner and recovering alcoholic; the other Elizabeth (Lauren Graham), an overprotective single mother. They all share things in common that make this answer man start to rethink his life.
During a visit to Kris’ book store, Arlen has a minor break down when he finds out that he will not be able to sell a library of self help books as Kris does not have the money to by them because his shop was closed while he was in rehab. In an attempt to get a version of what Arlen set out to do, he offers to just give the books away, this attempt is immediately knocked down as Kris sees this as more of an IOU than a gift. During this break down, Arlen not only loses his composure but also throws out his back resulting in a nice crawl from his home to the nearest chiropractic office. The office just so happens to be owned by the one person in the world that has no idea who Arlen is. This lack of knowledge immediately infatuates Arlen and leads to an awkward courtship.
The portrayal of this courtship by Jeff Daniels has to be one of his better roles in a long time. He shows the audience a span of emotions that really connects you with the feelings of the character even letting you in on details of his life before they are revealed with words. With out Daniels, I’m not sure if I would have liked this film as much, he just brought a sort of comfort to the character that I’m not sure anyone else could have done.
Daniels’ supporting cast did let me down a little it seemed, while Lou Taylor Pucci put too much emotion into his character, Lauren left the emotion out of her character. This along with the direction is what holds this film so far back. Though I liked the idea of the movie, it could have been a lot more in depth and created a really good film but, instead it comes off feeling like a made for T.V. movie. The way this film is shot could be a lack of creativity or just a lack of care for the material.
In my opinion, the story behind The Answer Man is solid, its just the execution that could had offered more. Not to mention, with out the performance of Jeff Daniels, this film would have been just something else to pass the time while you waited for the next HBO series to come on.
I give the Answer Man 2″ Apologies to Jeff Daniels” out of 5.
by Ryan Davis