I've bought a number of movies for a dollar at the Dollar Store. Some have been ones that I've already seen and liked so they make inexpensive gifts. Other ones are ones that I've heard of and are supposed to be good. But then there are movies like The Answer Man, where I picked it up because I liked the cast or the story sounded interesting even though I had never heard of it.
The Answer Man stars Jeff Daniels and Lauren Graham. Because of The Purple Rose of Cairo, Jeff Daniels will almost always get a free pass from me. And Lauren Graham - well there are many of you who know of my love of Gilmore Girls. And both of them in the same movie? I had hopes for it.
Jeff Daniels plays Arlen Faber. Arlen wrote a book called "Me and God" that has turned into a phenomenon. But now he's living a Salinger-esque lifestyle. He's still looking for life's answers and he can't deal with people who want him to provide the answers in their own lives. His solitary lifestyle goes into upheaval when he comes into contact with two people. The first is Kris Lucas (Lou Taylor Pucci), the owner of a bookstore that's nearly going under because it was closed for a month while he was in rehab for alcoholism. Arlen wants to get rid of all his new-agey, self-help books that are giving him no answers. Kris won't take them because he can't afford them.
Arlen is ticked, and his frustration ramps up to such a degree that his back goes out. He crawls into Elizabeth's (Lauren Graham) newly opened healing center. And it's love at first sight... for him.
This is a good movie. The cast is uniformly strong with some solid support from Kat Dennings as Kris' co-worker and Olivia Thirlby as Elizabeth's secretary. Each character has their own problems to overcome, and the ending, while a little pat, still leaves enough room for us to make up our own minds as to where the characters are going to end up.
This is a movie that shouldn't slip through the cracks. It's never going to be mentioned as one of the greats, but it has enough positive qualities that it's definitely worth a watch. Daniels and Graham have such an easy chemistry that you actively root for their characters. And Daniels dials it back on his character's abrasiveness just enough that he's more compelling and "enjoyable" than annoying.
I liked it enough that I felt I had to put it in this blog, so there's that.
*** (out of 4)