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There are high expectations for the creative genius behind Mad Men, one of the most acclaimed drama series ever. Matthew Weiner’s feature debut, Are You Here, unfortunately doesn’t even come close to his Becker days.

At first glance, the movie seems like a fun and goofy comedy (not that there’s anything wrong with that) with the likes of Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler, and Zach Galifianakis. Despite this lively cast, the film is criminally unfunny. Sure, Galifianakis runs around naked for laughs (?), Wilson plays a shallow but charming womanizer (a lazy incarnation of his Wedding Crashers’ character), and it even involves a considerable amount of pot smoking; but sadly it never reaches to anything that joyful. One minute it is a stoner buddy film,  the next a saccharine romantic comedy. Somewhere squeezed into the jumble is a drama about mental health.

Both Steve Dallas (Wilson) and Ben Baker (Galifianakis) are a mess. Lifelong friends, their lives are turned upside down with the news that Ben’s father has died. Steve, who has created a blissfully carefree existence through casual sex, drinking, and getting high at all times, manages to sustain his TV weather reporting job on his good looks and charm. In the opening montage of Steve’s many dates, he reveals he has no responsibilities or commitments and hopes to keep it that way.

Ben seems to be the closest personal tie he has in life. He is an earnest free spirit, but there is also something a little odd with his behavior. In previous Galifianakis roles, his eccentric man-child actions are accepted as part of the comedy; but in this movie, it addresses it for what would be seen as mental instability in real life.

Steve joins Ben to his Pennsylvania Amish-country hometown for the funeral. Also present are the father’s much younger second wife, Angela (Laura Ramsey) and Ben’s sister, Terri (Amy Poehler). Terri is the uptight, martyr type – but this probably stems from a lifetime of holding things together in the family, and now she is resentful for shouldering all of the responsibility. (Apparently Ben was the “squeaky wheel” so he received all of the attention).

As the will is revealed, Terri naturally expects most of the assets to go to her and her husband. While they do receive a large sum, Ben gets the farmhouse and control of the family business (all in all over 2 million dollars in assets). This is a problem for Terri, as she thinks Ben is mentally incapable of handling the fortune (his dream is to form and fund an enlightened Henry David Thoreau-esque society). Ben is court ordered to undergo therapy and possible medication before he can claim the fortune.

Meanwhile, Steve flirts with Angela while staying at the farmhouse. Her down-to-earth hippy outlook is a stark contrast to his shallow, pleasure-seeking ways. Unfortunately, the film focuses on this bland character and her unbelievable relationships with Steve and Ben (plus an extremely sad scene involving a chicken), when centering on the Baker family dynamics or the men’s friendship would have been more interesting.

Are You Here (2014) Owen Wilson, Laura Ramsey, Zach Galifianakis

The female characters are painfully one note, which makes it all the more puzzling coming from the man who brought us Joan Harris, Peggy Olson, and Betty Draper. Angela is basically there to be ogled, and her decisions / motives are murky. Terri is shrill and angry in every scene. Surely Poehler is capable of adding warmth to a character, but Terri’s bratty attitude is reduced to a Saturday Night Live sketch. The one sympathetic plotline that Terri has is never even resolved. Funny women Melissa Rauch and Jenna Fischer weirdly waltz in for a few awkward lines and then leave.

The story tackles themes of authenticity vs. illusion, and the title references being present in the moment instead of in a perpetual drug-induced haze. Worthwhile ideas, but the images and emotions don’t make the impact they should. After a cringe-worthy clichéd conclusion, there is one last thought-provoking shot — but it is too little and way too late.