Gus Van Sant Is Back with a Film About Quadriplegic Cartoonist John Callahan

'Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot' stars Joaquin Phoenix and is based on Callahan's memoir.

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Jan 16 2018, 8:20pm

On Tuesday, Amazon dropped the trailer for Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot—the first movie written and directed by Gus Van Sant in over a decade—it looks like it was definitely worth the wait.

Don't Worry tells the true story of quadriplegic cartoonist and Portland, Oregon legend John Callahan and is based on his 1989 memoir of the same name. Fellow Portland luminary Van Sant has been trying to get the adaptation made since at least 1998 when he had Robin Williams signed on to star. All these years later, the film has finally come together, this time with Joaquin Phoenix as Callahan and a cast rounded out by Jonah Hill, Rooney Mara, and Jack Black. Carrie Brownstein will also make an appearance, since, you know, Portland.

Callahan was paralyzed at 21 in a car accident after a day of drinking and struggled with alcoholism his entire life. From the looks of the trailer, the film will focus on Callahan's struggle to quit drinking with the support from Hill as his bearded AA sponsor. But Callahan's story is much more interesting and complex than the standard "road to recovery" tale.

Callahan's roughly-drawn comics—which he made by steadying a pen with both hands—were hilarious and brilliant and morbid, often making fun of his own struggle living with a disability. The edgy subject matter stirred up plenty of controversies and there was even the threat of a boycott against the Portland alt-weekly that originally published his work. He passed away in 2010.

It's been a while since the Milk director has been at the top of his game, but Callahan's life story seems like the perfect place for the writer-director to prove himself again, especially if he's able to capture some of Callahan's pitch-black humor in the film.

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot is set to premiere at Sundance on January 19 and will hit theaters on May 11. Until then, watch the trailer above.

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