Gus Van Sant, US/UK
John (Joaquin Phoenix), age 21, goes out wearing a colorful Hawaiian shirt and 1970 sunglasses and feels like he is going to die unless he gets a drink. He then proceeds to hit the night life full of parties and fun but ends up bumming around with Dexter (Jack Black), another serious addict, and before long they head from one party to the next, losing consciousness of how much they consumed. The final blow is a serious accident when his drinking buddy falls asleep at the wheel and wrecks his car. His friend walks away unscathed and John ends up in the hospital being a quadriplegic. Annu (Rooney Mara), a physical therapist, gives him hope and, with his offbeat sense of humor, tries to find out the meaning of life.
Based on the memoirs of the talented cartoonist John Callahan, this shows a very sensitive, but dark, portrayal of a serious alcoholic who has gone way out of bounds. He then miraculously uses not only his will power but has a chance meeting at a unique self-help Alcoholic Anonymous group run by a self-proclaimed guru hippie Donnie (Johan Hill) who helps to piece his life back together by using his artistic talents and humor. The jokes are not exactly politically correct but are appropriate to the time period and you are guaranteed to laugh at both the performances given by Joaquin Phoenix and Johan Hill. This film also gives you an appreciation for what is important in life and the importance to take on the responsibility to live your life to the fullest and help others do it as well. There is no excuse not to do it.