RICHARD CROUSE

REVIEW: Are You Here

Posted By: Richard Crouse · 8/21/2014 12:00:00 AM

The second feature from “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner is an odd duck. A comedy about substance abuse and bi polar behavior, it’s not as funny as a movie starring Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis should be nor is it as insightful as Weiner likely intended.  

Wilson is Steve Dallas, an Annapolis, Maryland weatherman who lives off a diet of marijuana, scotch and anonymous sex. “I eat life out of the big box,” he says, unconvincingly. His best friend is Ben Baker (Galifianakis), a childhood pal “who wasn’t that screwed together to begin with.” He’s bi polar, drug addicted and the heir of a large chunk of money and land from his late father. His plan to create a utopian society on his dad’s old farm doesn’t sit well with his controlling sister Terri (Amy Poehler) who tries to have him declared incompetent. Steve is in the middle of the action, coming between Ben and his sibling while trying to woo Ben’s twenty-five year old free spirited stepmother Angela (Laura Ramsey). Between the strife and family politics the characters look for the answer to one of life’s great questions: Is this it?

Audiences may find themselves asking the same thing, but for very different reasons. For all the movie’s commentary on the vagaries of life, like friendship—“It’s a lot rarer than love,” Says Steve, “because there’s nothing in it for anybody.”—mental illness and the freedom to be who we are, the story doesn’t add much to the conversation on any of those topics. Add to that some annoying characters and a disrespectful attitude toward the film’s women—they are either harridans or contradictory in their behavior—and you’re left with the feeling that if Weiner had turned this into a television series and given the characters time to live and breath he might have been able to develop this into something more interesting.       

2 STARS

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