ARE YOU HERE
Directed by Matthew Weiner
Starring Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler
The cast has an incredible roster of films under their belts, individually, but that doesn't necessarily mean magic. Somewhere in the story of Are You Here is probably a great tale of family, friendship, and growing up. Too bad director Matthew Weiner loses it all under the circumstance of having too many types of storytelling structures combined into one package.
Zach Galifianakis stars as Ben Baker, a manchild combination of every character the actor has become famous for playing. When Baker's father dies, he inherits an incredible fortune, including a nice slab of property. Baker is not the kind of person, mentally, you'd ever want to leave a fortune to. And he knows it. He's unstable and unwelcome to the attention and responsibility it would entail. Enter Owen Wilson's Steve Dallas, a womanizing, alcoholic, weather man who realizes he's ina bit of a financial emergency. Since he's Baker's best friend and the only person Baker trusts, Dallas crosses the line, attempting to convince Baker to take the inheritance and use it towards both of their advantages. Now enter Amy Poehler's Terri Coulter, Baker's uptight, business-savvy sister. She sees the wreck that Baker would be at managing property and millions of dollars, plus she, herself, would like more than the $100,000 left to her. The spitfire fight for the rights to the inheritance becomes the backdrop for a strange drama/comedy that ultimately leads to a mental, spiritual, and emotional awakening for all three.
The underlying study of family in adulthood and friendship beyond all measure would make for a great black comedy, especially with the comedic wit of those in the cast. The major problem is that, scene by scene, the ebb and flow of the film's feelings are about as unstable as Baker. A slapstick conversation or over-the-top interaction is immediately followed by a slow paced, introspective moment more befitting of August: Osage County. It's great when films find a way to successfully join the two genres. It makes the film more honest and real. Too bad the ingredients never mix too well here.
And just to set the record straight, the ones to blame aren't the actors. Poehler plays against type, being the prissy older sister to every level. She could've used a little more time to truly shine. Galifianakis shows why he's best playing the strange, weird family member. Wilson is the one who seems to be confused at what type of extreme to pay his character. The blame for that comes more from the structure and writing than anything else.
Are You Here is the kind of movie you catch on TV on the weekends. It's nothing spectacular, but you like the actors and the only other thing on is golf. There are some great moments and, luckily, nothing too standard, plus the actors are charming in their own special way. It won't be a complete waste of time to catch this while folding your laundry.
Runtime: 112 minutes