When Ben (Zach Galifianakis) loses his father he and his childhood best friend embark on a road trip back to their hometown to go to the funeral. Ben is a barely functioning bipolar and best friend Steve (Owen Wilson) is a serial womaniser. What could possibly go wrong?
Sadly the answer to that is not enough. With such a great cast a film like this has the potential to be hilarious but Are You Here falls very short of the mark. It’s as predictable as it is unfunny, Galifianakis plays a stoned loser and Wilson is pretty much the same as he is in everything. Amy Poehler is perhaps the only surprise, usually she can have you belly-laughing with just a single look but in Are You Here she’s about as funny as toothache and incredibly unlikeable (although that’s down to the script, not her!).
Are You Here’s write-up and DVD cover are both incredibly misleading and it shouldn’t be marketed as a comedy. Credit where it’s due it isn’t the worst drama ever and is relatively enjoyable. You won’t exactly be left feeling like you’ve wasted two hours of your life but it definitely won’t leave you feeling like those two hours were best spent either.
Zach Galifianakis is usually very funny and it’s a shame to see him play such a dull character. Admittedly it’s good to see that there’s more to him as an actor than simply playing a complete idiot but it would’ve been nice to have seen some more of his comedic ability in the film. Likewise with Amy Poehler, who’s portrayal of Leslie Knope in hit TV series Parks and Recreation is a stroke of comedy genius. Are You Here had such great potential but sadly doesn’t deliver.
I can’t even begin to describe how disappointing the ending is. We have a bipolar main character who seems to be on the brink of a sometimes dangerous melt down throughout the film. As he focuses on an annoying red rocking horse at the end you’re left expecting something big to happen as the music goes slightly strange, then all of a sudden it just cuts to black and the credits start to roll. No explanation, no satisfying ending, nothing. Just a random rocking horse.
If you’re looking for a laugh out loud, feel good comedy like I was when I picked up Are You Here, then you may be left feeling sorely disappointed. A reasonable if slightly dull drama, Are You Here has a lot of potential that it just does not reach. One very good reason why this film, which was released in the UK last year, is still fairly unheard of.