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