Back in that far gone year of 2012, we first reported that Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner was embarking on his feature directorial debut, a passion project titled You Are Here. Well, after a quick title switch to Are You Here, the film is finally nearing its general theatrical and VOD release on August 22, 2014. Distributor Millennium Entertainment released the first trailer earlier today, which you can watch above.
Are You Here is a quirky comedy/drama starring Owen Wilson as womanizing weatherman Steve, and Zach Galifianakis as his wacky best friend Ben. Ben sometimes has trouble maintaining his grip on things like social etiquette, normal behavior, and sanity. When Ben's father dies, he is shocked to learn that the will gives him control of the family home, business, and assets.
No one is more displeased with this development than Ben's put-upon sister Terri (Amy Poehler), who can't begin to comprehend why her dad didn't give her the keys to the kingdom instead. With Ben in need of some guidance and support, he turns to his pal Steve for help. In usual dramedy fashion, Steve ends up learning some things about himself along the way.
Are You Here first debuted at 2013's Toronto International Film Festival, and the reviews were quite mixed. Weiner seems largely unfazed though, and addressed the critical response in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly.
"I just continued the process of making the movie. I treated it as a screening. [The final cut is] actually quite a bit different than it was at Toronto.”
On the surface, the Are You Here trailer invokes memories of films like Sideways, giving off a comedic yet melancholic vibe. The reviews for the original edit seem to back this sentiment up, with the general consensus being that despite Owen Wilson's charming affability, the character of Steve is just too shallow and selfish to be all that likable. Likewise, last year's reviews generally seemed to be of the opinion that Ben is just too crazy to relate to.
However, assuming Weiner is correct, Are You Here may have gone through enough changes since Toronto to warrant a critical reevaluation. One thing that doesn't seem to have changed, at least based on the above trailer, is just how familiar Wilson and Galifianakis' respective roles are. Wilson could play a smug ladies man in his sleep at this point, and the same could easily be said for Galifianakis' ability to play an unpredictable force of nature. This in no way means that they won't do well with the material, or that the film won't be enjoyable, but it hardly represents a creative leap for either actor.
Lastly, Mad Men fans may want to check their expectations at the door when heading out to see Are You Here. The script was written years before Wiener's ascendancy to the upper echelon of TV drama, and has very little in common with the slow burn dramatic sensibilities often associated with Don Draper and company. Does that mean Mad Men fans will dislike Are You Here? Of course not, but it's something to consider.
Are You Here hits both theaters and VOD on August 22, 2014.