Saturday, October 15, 2011

MOVIE REVIEW: Answer This!

Guest blogger Liz Parker is back from a red carpet screening of Answer This!, a movie filmed in and about Ann Arbor, MI.  Can a local movie be a blockbuster hit?  Let's read what Liz thinks..,

I was fortunate enough to attend the world premiere screening of Answer This! at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor last October, and since then I have been waiting for the film to be picked up for wider distribution. Wrekin Hill Entertainment has picked up Answer This!, and to celebrate that, there was another red carpet premiere screening at the Emagine Royal Oak this past Thursday, October 13. I was interested in seeing if the distributors had made any changes to the movie, and if they had, they are little; however, the movie was just as good as I remembered it.

Paul Tarson (Christopher Gorham, TV's Covert Affairs) has lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan his whole life. He grew up there, went to the University of Michigan as an undergrad, and has spent the past eight years there working on his thesis in graduate school. His father, Elliot (newcomer and former UM professor Ralph Williams), is a Bible Studies professor at UM, and has just told Paul that he needs to finish his thesis this semester; in addition, Elliot is going to be retiring, so there is a prime associate professor spot open for Paul at the university. Paul needs to finish his thesis soon, but it is competing for his attention with one of his favorite pastimes: trivia. He's on a team with his friend James (Nelson Franklin, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) and Izzy (Evan Jones, The Book of Eli), and they've just made the finals. Slight problem, though: the trivia finals are on the same night as when he is to defend his dissertation. Which will he choose to attend?

In the midst of this, Paul meets Naomi (Arielle Kebbel, TV's Life Unexpected), whom, he soon finds out, is a freshman in one of the Bible Studies sections that he teaches. It's a definite "no-no" for students to date their teachers, but they continue to see each other anyways. When Naomi stops showing up for his discussion section class, Paul happens to see her in the Diag (the heart of UM's campus), and she tells him that she doesn't want to be "tied down" right now; after all, she's only a freshman and she still has three years of school left. She also thinks it's a bit "lame" that Paul has stayed in Ann Arbor his entire life, and she challenges him to imagine a life for himself outside of the college city. Paul has to decide what he wants to do next year - stay in Ann Arbor and be a professor, or take off for different pastures - and he only has a semester in which to figure it out.

Gorham and Kebbel have undeniable chemistry together, and they are a joy to watch on the screen. Nelson Franklin, Gorham's trivia buddy, has a lot of one-liners as well, and Izzy, his other trivia friend, is a crazy guy who they recruit for the team solely because they need someone knowledgeable in sports. Ralph Williams, as well, does a fine job acting here, although I know that some of the aspects of Dr. Tarson's personality were taken straight from his actual behavior in his UM classes - his "Yea, Nay?" catchphrase, for instance, and his habit of going around the lecture hall and introducing himself to everyone on the first day of class.

Yes, definitely see this film, and do it quickly, as it's only going to be in theaters for a few weeks. Naysayers may argue that this movie won't do well outside of the Ann Arbor/metro Detroit "area," but I beg to differ. The themes in the film are classic - "finding" yourself and deciding what you want to do with your life - and even if I had never even stepped foot on UM's campus, it's a beautiful place, and shows extremely well on film. The film definitely has its comedic moments, as well, and the audience at Emagine Royal Oak were laughing at most of these.

Answer This! is currently playing at Emagine Novi and in Grand Rapids, and will expand to the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor next week. It is rated PG-13 with a runtime of approximately 100 minutes.

Full theatrical schedule:
Emagine Novi and Grand Rapids (currently playing)
Oct. 16: Traverse City
Oct. 21: Ann Arbor and Concord, NH
and Nov. 4: Cleveland, OH

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Liz Parker is a 2009 graduate of the University of Michigan. She currently works as an Assistant Medical Editor for a pathology website. Visit her at her movie blog Yes/No Films
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