Are You Here is a convoluted and inconsistent comedy that thankfully has several humorous moments. The film’s desire to become more than the premise suggests ultimately fails it from being enjoyable, as the dramatic elements of the film fall flat and become tiresome and obnoxious. However, there is some great comedy that makes the experience enjoyable.
The major strength of Are You Here is by Owen Wilson, who gives a great comedic performance that covers up a lot of the film’s flaws. Most of the scenes involving Wilson’s character contain witty dialogue and good character interaction, which fells lacking in the rest of the film. This is largely due to the fact that Wilson’s portion of the film is the closest to straight comedy and in the end is the most enjoyable aspect of the movie. Wilson is perfectly cast as a cocky, irresponsible newsman uncomfortable in serious situations and the rural area (he gets one particularly hilarious scene involving chickens). However, Wilson struggles to find his place in some of the more serious scenes where he has to show some actual emotion.
Zack Galifinackis seems to be less well cast. Though he has great chemistry with Owen Wilson during the film’s beginning, the subplot involving his characters inheritance of his father’s estate and mental issues seem to drag the film down quite a bit. The problem here is that the film is trying to be several different movies; a straight comedy involving an out of place newsman, a dramedy involving the reconnecting of a family, and a straight up drama about mental illnesses and drug addiction. Galifinakis’s character is required as part of all three plots, making his performance the most uneven. This is also reflected in the supporting cast, including Amy Poehler and Laura Ramsey, who struggle to be both comedic and dramatic.
The film is thankfully short at only 112 minutes, but the entire second act seems to drag on as there are several scenes without anything being resolved. The editing itself also seems very odd, as the transition between shots feels somewhat uneven. There’s also the score, which seems underused and never really utilized. Director Matthew Weiner mostly does a good job setting up scenes, but most scenes run too long and ultimately feel inconsistent with the rest of the film. Though Weiner does a good job at directing these actors, there are many scenes in which there brought out of there comfort zone, including an emotional scene involving Owen Wilson’s character near the end of the film that falls completely flat. Weiner also seems to be bringing a message to the film, which is never completely clear. This is represented in the film’s closing shot, which doesn’t seem to make any symbolic sense.
Are You Here is a disjointed film that suffers from its desire to become several different films. While Owen Wilson delivers a great comedic performance and there is some great comedy, the dramatic elements of the film never seem to come together or make any sort of impact or statement. Though the comedy is great, it never becomes anything truly remarkable. Grade: +C