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Posted on Fri, Oct 8, 2010 : 11:12 p.m.

'Answer This!' charms capacity crowd at Friday night screening

By Jenn McKee

In attendance at the sold-out, first sneak preview screening of “Answer This!” at the Michigan Theater on Friday night was the movie’s two stars, Chris Gorham and Arielle Kebbel.

Yet moments before the screening got underway, the arrival that caused the most rubbernecking and crowd chatter on the main floor involved former University of Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr.

The moment somehow seemed to underline a truth: Hollywood and its stars may come to our town now and then these days, but Ann Arbor will always be Ann Arbor — especially when there’s a big game on the horizon.

(This was reinforced when, before the screening began, the organist played “The Victors,” and the capacity crowd clapped and sang along.)

Ralph Williams, the retired, hugely popular U-M English professor who also stars in the film, offered a few opening comments, along with Ann Arbor’s John Farah, father of “Answer This!” filmmakers Chris (director/screenwriter) and Mike (producer) Farah.

The Farah brothers also took the stage to offer a few brief comments, the conclusion of which can be seen here:

“Answer This!” — which will now be submitted to various festivals — tells the story of a longtime U-M grad student (Gorham) who, while staring down his own graduation, gets involved with a charming freshman (Kebbel), as well as the world of competitive pub trivia.

The film was shot in late summer 2009, and distinct local spots — the cube, Nickels Arcade, Ashley’s, the Rackham Building, U-M’s graduate library, the Ingalls Mall fountain, etc. — get some serious screen love.

One less familiar location used for the film was the home of Robert Ferrell, a retired history professor who lives in Scio Township. As a patient and friend of John Farah (a dentist), Ferrell agreed to let his house stand in for that of Williams’ character in the film. Shooting there took one day.

“It was chaos at the house,” said Farrell. “But they put everything back.”

Aside from the film's local ties, the crowd seemed to also embrace the movie's story and humor, offering spirited, protracted applause as the credits rolled.

Locals involved with the film, as well as fans, clustered around Gorham and Kebbel to snap photos and, in at least one case, ask them to sign a T-shirt bearing Williams’ image that reads, “Yay/Nay?”

Gorham offered his thoughts on the film after seeing "Answer This!" in its entirety for the first time, as well as what appealed to him about the project.

Arielle Kebbel also talked briefly about what caught her interest about the "Answer This!" script, and her experience with the Ann Arbor screening.

And because the first screening of "Answer This!" on Friday night had sold out, a few hundred more people strode across the red carpet in front of the Michigan to watch the added 10 p.m. screening.

If Ann Arbor's early reception of "Answer This!" is any indication, it looks like native sons Chris and Mike Farah's pursuits in the film arena will be anything but trivial.

Jenn McKee is the entertainment digital journalist for Reach her at or 734-623-2546, and follow her on Twitter @jennmckee.



Mon, Oct 11, 2010 : 1:04 p.m.

it was a fun evening to go out and see a locally made movie with people we all know helped produce it. The ticketing was a bit chaotic, as it would have been preferable to number the tickets as to avoid the seat-saving frenzy that ensued as the crowd stampeded through the double doors directly into the main viewing hall. Yay/Nay?


Sat, Oct 9, 2010 : 7:57 p.m.

The event was exciting and great fun! Chris, the director, came out and shook hands with the general admission folks (like me) and thanked us for coming. I really appreciated that. I liked the film, it was cute, the UM/A2 references were neat. But I found it tried to cover too much: love story, father-son issues, not wanting to grow up, and the trivia stuff, plus A2/UM. Here's my top pet peeve about accuracy: a freshman would not be taking a 400 level class her first semester. (The nepotism also really bugged me.)


Sat, Oct 9, 2010 : 4:49 p.m.

It was a very exciting, wonderful event. There WAS a red carpet, and many people were dressed to the nines. Every seat was taken during the 7:30 showing, and there were people standing in back and along the sides of the room. The film is very Ann Arbor, but it is also funny and charming to such a degree that I think it will stand up well in front of a general audience. I hope it is released in movie houses eventually! I know folks as far away as Texas who are eager to see it. The Ralph Williams character was very sympathetic, and the way Williams showed his feelings for his son -- his high hopes, his pride, his fears, his frustration, and his anger -- just with facial expression and the use of his marvelous hands was very moving. As a parent, I felt he didn't seem to be exerting undue pressure on his son, more wanting the best for him and doing what he could to help him. The part of the storyline that had a department considering putting a new PhD (and son) into the chair that a beloved, long-time professor (and father) had held seemed fanciful, and I would rather that bit was omitted, but overall, both my husband and I loved the film. Well done!


Sat, Oct 9, 2010 : 7:18 a.m.

I enjoyed the film, but it seemed to play to an insider audience quite a bit -- a lot of winking and elbow nudging to local Ann Arborites. (Many of whom, it has to be said, would find it strange that a dissertation defense would be scheduled for a Friday evening and that a professor could time his retirement in such a way as to open a slot for his slacking son.) The Ann Arbor angle had all the subtlety, understatement, and restraint of a Bob Ufer or Jim Brandstatter. Still, I had a good time at the 10:00 showing, even though it kept me out way past my bedtime!