The Greater Philadelphia Film Office should send copies of John Hindman’s The Answer Man to every producer and director even remotely thinking of coming here to shoot. For a city still suffering from a collective case of low self-esteem, this so-so rom-com – with Jeff Daniels as a burnt-out bestselling author of spiritual advice books and Gilmore Girls’ Lauren Graham as the chiropractor who brings him back into alignment in more ways than one – is one big City of Brotherly Love morale booster.
More so than even the most-dashing moments in the M. Night Shyamalan oeuvre, The Answer Man shows off the striking urban beauty and cool of Philadelphia. From the stately brownstone manors of Delancey Street to the cafes and shops of Old City, from a shot of Daniels crawling on all fours past the WPA-era tableau of the post office at 9th and Market Streets to scenes of Rittenhouse Square and scullers on the Schuylkill, the film celebrates the city’s cinemagenic strengths. Locations include the Warsaw Café, the Newport apartment building, McCall Elementary in Society Hill (redubbed the Robert Frost School) and the Book Trader on 2nd Street -- the used bookstore gets a huge, huge plug.
Director of photography Oliver Bokelberg, who shot The Visitor and the Meryl Streep-starrer Dark Matter, clearly saw something he liked in Philadelphia. Lou Taylor Pucci, Kat Dennings, Nora Dunn and Olivia Thirlby also appear in Answer Man (called The Dream of the Romans when it was in production here in 2008), but the real star of the picture, without a doubt, is Philadelphia.