Matthew Weiner is attempting to get into the film game. His first and only other written and directed movie was “What Do You Do All Day” (1996), which probably was a self-assessing feature about his own life as a struggling film student trying to find his feet after college. His latest, “Are You Here,” is much different but all the more forgettable. Drawing on his gumption from Mad Men’s success, Weiner drags superstars like Amy Poehler, Zach Galifianakis and Owen Wilson into the fold but misses all of the opportunities he’s earned with such a cast.
Poehler plays the small role of Terri Coulter, the daughter of a self-made grocer who recently died and passed on most of his namesake to his son, Ben (played by Galifianakis). Weiner gives Wilson a scumbag role with which he miserably whiffs. Sure, Wilson’s kind of a pompous ass in “Wedding Crashers,” but at least he’s going to a better place in that, one of my favorite comedies. Instead, playing Steve Dallas in “Are You Here,” his life as a weatherman is a constant bong hit going nowhere.
In the film, Terri questions the intentions of her father’s young hippie partner, Angela (played by Laura Ramsey, who is this movie’s best, most charming draw). Terri thinks Angela was after her father’s money all along, even though Terri is the one who inherits a ton of cash from it.
While an uncomfortable sex scene between Angela and Ben, who is on a ton of depressants, makes us question her intentions, too, Steve Dallas comes off as the one with an ulterior motive; hell, he even says he thinks he deserves something out of all of it. Wilson is the one really hurting this film, which is supposed to be about Ben course-correcting his life into something real. Apparently he does, although the ending is terribly, terribly confusing without any hint of satisfaction or resolution. Ben meets Pam Beasl—I mean a mom named Alli played by Jenna Fischer—but the storyline comes up empty and shouldn’t have been included anyway. Is she on the phone with her husband at the end?
More upsetting is how Angela and Steve’s fling ends, in a rain storm making out at the farm that Ben gave to Steve. It’s Angela who deserves better than that; in fact, she deserves a better movie. Laura Ramsey’s performance is the only enjoyable thing about “Are You Here,” even though it’s nice just to see Poehler in anything. Angela’s the only three-dimensional character. The others are all high on something.
“Are You Here”: ★1/2