With Are You Here, Matthew Weiner Botches His First Feature


Writer-director Matthew Weiner, creator of the magnificent Mad Men, has made a feature film — theoretically a comedy — that’s just shy of terrible. Owen Wilson is Steve Dallas, a boozy Maryland TV weatherman who has no discernible life, and is proud of it. His lifelong friend, Ben (Zach Galifianakis), is a shut-in, and given to episodes of mania.

Ben’s father dies and leaves his vast Pennsylvania farm and fortune to his son, much to the dismay of his shrill, Daddy-loyal sister (Amy Poehler). Steve, who has prostitutes on speed dial, begins wooing Angela (Laura Ramsey), the free-spirited young wife of the dead father.

When she tells Steve that “I try to avoid things that keep me from feeling,” you know that by movie’s end, Steve is going to be feeling things like crazy. He’ll feel all right, but he’ll still be a shallow, misogynistic jerk, no matter how often Wilson tilts his head like a naughty puppy. (It’s disturbing how persistently Weiner finds ways for women to bare their breasts to Steve.)

Are You Here lurches awkwardly between the farm and the TV studio, with Weiner clearly failing to achieve the self-knowledge that Mad Men‘s Don Draper was born with: He’s not a funny guy.

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