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Featured DVD Review: Answer This!

January 7th, 2012

Answer This! - Buy from Amazon

Writer / director Christopher Farah made this film in 2010. If you don't know who Christopher Farah is, I'm not that surprised, as Answer This! is his feature-length debut. He and his brother, Mike Farah, are creators on Funny or Die. Christopher has written and directed about half a dozen shorts, while Mike has produced dozens of them. Dealing with a feature-length film requires a different skill set, so will this film work, or will it feel like a short film stretched to the breaking point?

The Movie

Christopher Gorham stars as Paul Tarson, who has spent the past eight years trying to write his dissertation. Trying, but failing. On the first day of the new school year he meets Naomi, a freshman who is taking a Bible Literature class taught by Dr. Elliot Tarson, who is Paul's father. Dr. Tarson wants his son to follow in his footsteps, but Paul doesn't exactly know what he wants to do. His dad forces him to decide when he cuts off his funding for his education. This is to be his last semester at university.

Being forced to confront adulthood by graduating, Paul does the only sensible option instead, to team up with his friend James Koogly and enter a Pub Trivia contest. He does make a compelling argument. His dissertation matters so much that he needs to do something completely pointless instead. However, if they are to compete, they will need someone to help them with sports, which is a big portion of any Pub Trivia contest. Paul recruits Izzy "Ice" Dasselway, his friend from fourth grade and the only jock he's ever been friends with.

Also taking time away from his dissertation is Naomi. Not only is she a freshman, but he's her TA, which makes the relationship doubly wrong.

Will he get his dissertation done on time? Will he continue on the path his father has set? Or will he finally discover what it is he really wants to do with his life? None of the answers to those questions are really spoilers. There's not a lot of this film that's anything but predictable. The big arc of the story is clear from the start. Paul finally becoming an adult and escaping from the shadow of his father. But little things are telegraphed right from the start as well. For instance, we meet one of his fellow TAs, Lucas Brannstrom, very early in the movie and they don't get along very well, so you know they will both be in the trivia tournament. In the opening scene of the movie, James gets mocked by a waitress, Shelly, who works at the pub where the trivia contest will be held. When I saw that, my immediate thought was, 'These two are going to get together in the end.'

So apart from the over-reliance on clichés, how is the movie? It's not bad. Christopher Gorham has the charisma to pull of the role, while he and Arielle Kebbel have chemistry together. Paul is really the only character with any major development to him. Niaomi, James, and Ice have a scene or two, or maybe just a line of dialogue to give the characters any depth. It does feel a little padded and I lost count of the number of montages in the film. But overall, it's the kind of movie you can watch and enjoy. The replay value is limited, on the other hand.

The Extras

The extras start with an audio commentary track with the Farah brothers, Christopher and Mike, plus the other producer, Anna Wenger. There's good energy and plenty of information and worth checking out. Next up is an eight-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, which is the usual mix of talking heads, behind-the-scenes footage, and clips from the movie. There are three deleted scenes. There is a five-minute featurette on Ann Arbor, where the film was shot. And finally, there are outtakes for three scenes totalling eight minutes.

The Verdict

Answer This! is not a great movie. It's too predictable to be described as great. It is entertaining enough to be worth spending 105 minutes of your time, while the DVD has much better than expected extras. It adds up to a solid rental, but that's as enthusiastic as I can be.


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