Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is not your typical 12 Step movie. Then again, Gus Van Sant is not your typical director. So it only makes perfect sense that he'd do the 12 Step differently than anyone else. It also makes perfect sense that Van Sant's 12 Step picture would capture the atypical nature of everyone in the program. Especially considering everyone's goal is decidedly the same.
Based on cartoonist John Callahan’s same-named 1989 memoir, Gus Van Sant’s latest stars Joaquin Phoenix as an alcoholic who drinks himself into a wheelchair and miraculously manages to 12 Step his way back from oblivion.
Anyone at all familiar with the 12 Steps will know about A.A.’s many miracles. And watching what the 12 Step program does to and for a veritable wreck of a man is indeed miraculous. But the real miracle isn’t that an alcoholic Steps his way to sobriety (though there is that). No, the real miracle is that an angry, spiteful, occasionally cruel man finds true redemption through the Steps.
In other words, he has a spiritual awakening, which of course is one of the main promises of the 12 Step program. That arc makes Don’t Worry… a bona fide endorsement of A.A. That it couldn’t happen to a more oddball guy makes this flick bonafidely Gus Van Sant.
Van Sant also explored addiction in Drugstore Cowboy (1989) and Last Days (2005). Here however the filmmaker adds addiction recovery to the equation. And that gives this flick a hopefulness Van Sant’s previous forays into substance abuse didn’t and couldn’t have.
The addiction recovery equation also makes Don’t Worry… perfect for these times. Sure the film is set in the ‘70s, and there’s no mistaking the culture of then with the culture of now. But the issues surrounding addiction and recovery remain the same. Only now those issues are impacting even more Americans.
The 12 Step program remains the same too. Just as it has since the A.A. fellowship was founded back in 1935. The reason? Because it works. Plain and simple. It may not always be easy or pretty. But it’s pretty easy to see how much it beats the alternative.
We at Recovery Boot Camp know only too well what the alternative to sobriety can turn out to be. And we do everything we can to prevent that alternative from happening. That’s why we adhere to the 12 Step program in all of our affairs, which of course includes our Basic Training addiction treatment. Indeed we’ve seen the miracles brought about by A.A. And we want to see more.
We also want to see more movies such as Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. The truth of the 12 Step program needs to be told, as much as possible. And it needs to be told as boldly as it’s been told here. For everyone's sake. Thank You, Gus Van Sant.