22nd Feb2015

‘Are You Here’ Review

by Richard Axtell

Stars: Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler, Jay Gates, Jason Davis, Melissa Rauch, Melanie Ratcliff, Naomi Lavette, Lauren Lapkus, Alana De La Garza, Greg Cromer, Paul Schulze, Matt Cornwell, Bridget Gethins | Written and Directed by Matthew Weiner


Ben is likes to spend his days on a couch with his childish best friend Steve smoking weed. But when his father passes away, they travel back to their childhood home and their lives are turned upside down. On discovering his late father has left him a large sum of money and property in his will, Ben finds a new purpose in life. However, those around him are less supportive and as they all try to figure out what to do with the money, Ben and his family begin to re-examine their own lives as well.

With actors like Zach Galifianakis and Amy Poehler involved, you would be forgiven for thinking that Are You Here is a comedy. OK it is TECHNICALLY a comedy. Owen Wilson’s role of the womanising weatherman is quite ridiculous, but even that isn’t enough to make this film funny. I think the most annoying thing about Are You Here is that fact that it is seems to be one of the only films I have watched where the plot seems to go backwards. Galifianakis’s character Ben seems to start the film with large dreams and dramatic gestures only to have them burn out into nothing by the end. ‘A Normal life is OK’ seems to be the overall message of Are You Here, which is incredibly anticlimactic.

Aside from Ben and his troubles, there is also a romantic sub-plot between Steve and Angela. Unfortunately, it does feel a lot like it was added to the film as an after thought being both awkward and forced. Almost as if someone in an office somewhere thought ‘Well it’s not a film without a romantic sub-plot!’ To make this worse, the romance ended with kissing the rain. Kissing. In the Rain. Let’s all have a tasty slice of that cliché pie! Mmm tastes overdone. In fact, now that I think about, a lot of Are You Here didn’t feel comfortable. Maybe that was the point, I’m not sure, but the result was a film which didn’t really entertain as much as leave you wondering what you have just sat through for one hour and fifty minutes.

I suppose, in the film’s defence, it does explore some interesting themes to do with mental illness, how we treat and view the world and life in general, but it doesn’t do it well enough to sustain interest or at least entertain on a minimum level. Overall, I don’t really think Are You Here is a film worth watching. It tries, but not very hard and it doesn’t succeed.

Are You Here is out now on VOD. The film is released on DVD on February 23rd.


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