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posted: 8/21/2014 5:30 AM

Gire: 'Are You Here' doesn't step up to the challenge

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  • Video: Are You Here trailer


Mini review: "Are You Here"

The only way that writer/director Matthew Weiner's anemic comic buddy movie could have been saved would be if co-stars Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis departed their comfort zones and switched their stereotyped characters.

Make Galifianakis the charming, self-centered horndog and turn Wilson into the nervous, manic nut job. That would have been the most daring comic role reversal since Dan Aykroyd defied expectations with John Belushi in 1981's "Neighbors." But nooooooooooooooo!

Wilson plays Steve, a womanizing TV weatherman with credit problems. When the dad of his best friend Ben (Galifianakis) dies, Steve arrives to help Ben cope with the loss. Ben, being paranoid and bipolar, lives off the grid and freaks out over everything.

Amy Poehler plays beneath her skill set as Ben's control freak sister Terry, willing to go to legal war when their dead dad leaves Ben the house, a 150-acre farm, a downtown general store and $2.5 million in assets. Maybe that will help Ben pull up.

Laura Ramsey plays Angela, the late dad's 25-year-old wife still living in the farm house. (That she would fall for Steve soon after the funeral is the height of the movie's misplaced sense of character.)

That "Are You Here" is such a mess comes as a surprise, inasmuch as Weiner has a true knack for putting riveting characters into interesting situations as the creator and producer of AMC's "Mad Men."

Not even a marketing campaign designed by Don Draper himself could sell this boondoggle.

"Are You Here" opens at the South Barrington 30. Rated R for drug use, language, nudity and sexual situations. 113 minutes. ★

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