Harry Sabulis | 19 October 2018

Physical disabilities are no laughing matter – at least not for most. But for the late John Callahan, the quadriplegic cartoonist who was infamous for his black comedy sketches that facetiously mocked even his own condition, there’s nothing that you can’t make a joke out of.

As the film’s title may suggest, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot takes a rather unusual stance on disability. The biopic about disabled cartoonist John Callahan, who became a quadriplegic in a car accident at 21, is a film that not only delves into the very serious and dramatic side of this tragic life story but delivers a uniquely dark sense of humour that most films wouldn’t dare attempt.

Perhaps the strength in this film, an adaptation of the Cartoonist’s autobiography of the same name, comes from Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line, The Master) and his expert portrayal of Callahan. Phoenix captures the tortured artist in a way that not only shocks the audience but allows us to relate with him on a fundamental level, despite his specific circumstances.

Physical disabilities are no laughing matter – at least not for most. But for the late John Callahan, the quadriplegic cartoonist who was infamous for his black comedy sketches that facetiously mocked even his own condition, there’s nothing that you can’t make a joke out of.

As the film’s title may suggest, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot takes a rather unusual stance on disability. The biopic about disabled cartoonist John Callahan, who became a quadriplegic in a car accident at 21, is a film that not only delves into the very serious and dramatic side of this tragic life story but delivers a uniquely dark sense of humour that most films wouldn’t dare attempt.

Perhaps the strength in this film, an adaptation of the Cartoonist’s autobiography of the same name, comes from Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line, The Master) and his expert portrayal of Callahan. Phoenix captures the tortured artist in a way that not only shocks the audience but allows us to relate with him on a fundamental level, despite his specific circumstances.

That being said, the use of animation to mimic Callahan’s iconic crudely drawn sketches definitely aided the story in breaking up the time jumps and transitioning scenes from a dark place into something more comedic. While these juxtaposing leaps between tragedy and comedy may be jarring for some viewers, they offer a unique look into the thoughts of a troubled mind and provide a story that is not only compelling but entertaining in a fresh and original way.

Serving as a fitting tribute to the late cartoonist, who passed away in 2010 due to complications with his injury, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is not only an ode to a tragic life, but a film that maintains the heart of the person who it’s dedicated to – no matter how offensive that heart may be.

About the author

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ABOUT THE WRITER: Harry Sabulis is a film, music, theatre and media crazed writer with a passion for all things artsy. A certified nerd and aspiring screenwriter, Harry loves storytelling in all of its forms. You can read some of his film reviews on his blog, Kill The Critic.

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