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The Answer Man -- 4 of 5 stars

Sentinel Staff Writer

Twenty years ago Arlen Faber ( Jeff Daniels) wrote a runaway self-help best-seller, Me and God. It was all about spirituality, looking for and finding answers, discovering the meaning of life. Still revered, Arlen has become a Philadelphia recluse. And the man "who redefined spirituality for an entire generation" still plows through the religious musings of others, cursing them, the world and the groupie mailman who is sure he isn't who he says he is.

But a crank with a bad back needs somebody. That's where fetching, smothering single mom chiropractor (Lauren Graham) comes in. And the young New Age bookstore owner fresh out of rehab (Lou Taylor Pucci) would be handy to know, too. If he doesn't go out of business. If The Answer Man ever answers his soul-in-crisis queries.

"Do I have a destiny or is it all free will?"

Daniels plays the snappy come-backs well, but goes light on the eccentricity in this John Hindman variation on As Good as It Gets. He's simply too functional to be "dysfunctional." Graham does her charming mom bit, and Kat Dennings (Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist) and Olivia Thirlby (Juno) are here in cute bit roles.

A very pleasant indie character comedy, emphasis on "indie."

Screening at: 7 p.m. Sat. April 4, Enzian; 4:30 p.m. Sun. April 5, Regal Winter Park 20

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