Steve Dallas (Owen Wilson) is a TV weatherman whose life revolves on get high on weed, alcohol and random sex. One day, he accompanies his close friend from childhood, Ben Baker (Zach Galifianakis), to attend the funeral of Ben's father. Ben, who was a mentally-unstable bum, inherited the bulk of his father's wealth, much to the consternation of his control-freak sister Terri (Amy Poehler). Furthermore, the father's beautiful young hippie widow, Angela (Laura Ramsey), complicates matters between the two best friends.
Owen Wilson plays his usual charming happy-go-lucky character we have seen in many of his previous films. His character will have some pretty bizarre decisions and drastic actions that are quite uncharacteristic of the Steve Dallas we meet in the first act. Galifianakis also plays the same unkempt, unorthodox, and unhinged man we have seen him play before, like the Hangover films. The stunt he pulls with his famous beard is already one of the highlights of this movie, and that says much about the film as a whole.
Amy Poehler plays a bitter, sharp-tongued character here, unlike her TV persona that I know. She has some good moments, particularly that part where she speaks to an Amish guy about God. However as a whole, her angry character Terri is very perplexing to interpret. As the all-natural beauty Angela, Laura Ramsey is a welcome breath of fresh air in the overwrought mess. However, I am not sure whether the problem in her character is in the writing or her performance, because her Angela comes off as weak and incidental, rather than wise and inspiring.
One of the main draws of this film is that it is the first feature film written and directed by Max Weiner, the creator of iconic TV series Mad Men. However, "Are You Here" is an unusual film which felt like it did not know its own intentions. The cast is composed of three big names in comedy: Wilson, Galifianakis and Poehler. The trailer seemed to suggest that this was going to be one big buddy comedy film. Even during the first part of the film itself, the film was upbeat in mood. However, as the film went along, the direction seemingly got lost, with the story going completely to most unexpected places.
You sort of get the feeling that Weiner was trying to say something about going deep within us to discover ourselves and live like who we really are naturally. However, the message gets so distorted along the way with the confusing flow of the story, with detours on mental illness and friendship woes. By the time it reaches that final metaphor in the end about a mechanical vs a real horse, most of the audience may have already tuned out or given up trying to make sense of it. 4/10.