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Matthew Weiner
Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler, Laura Ramsey
Writing Credits:
Matthew Weiner

When his off-the-grid best buddy Ben Baker (Zach Galifianakis) inherits his estranged father's fortune, womanizing local weatherman Steve Dallas (Owen Wilson) joins forces with him to battle the legal challenge brought by Ben's formidable sister (Amy Poehler).

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Dolby Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 9/30/2014

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Matthew Weiner, Editor Christopher Gay and Cinematographer Christopher Manley
• Preview and Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Are You Here [Blu-Ray] (2014)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 23, 2014)

Fresh off the success of his hit TV series Mad Men, Matthew Weiner makes his theatrical debut with 2014’s Are You Here. Womanizing TV weatherman Steve Dallas (Owen Wilson) hangs out with his Ben Baker (Zach Galifianakis), his immature, mentally erratic childhood friend. They head out on an emergency trip when Ben’s father dies.

At the funeral, Ben re-encounters his chilly sister Terri (Amy Poehler), and they spar when they hear the results of their father’s will. While Terri receives $350,000, Ben snares $2.5 million and ownership of dad’s estate. They battle over this topic and Steve also attempts to woo Ben and Terri’s attractive young widowed stepmother Angela (Laura Ramsey).

I guess it’s a good thing that Weiner didn’t attempt to make a movie in the same vein as Mad Men; at least he uses his cinematic opportunity for something different than his prior glories. Weiner easily could’ve gone for another slick period piece to capitalize on his hit show.

Thus ends the positive portion of this review, as I find little else about the predictable, trite Here to praise. Maybe when I screen this disc’s audio commentary I’ll get some idea what Weiner hoped to achieve with the project, as we get a rambling, bloated collection of weak character moments, cheap gags and banal social commentary.

All of which renders Here a massive disappointment. With Weiner involved as well as a strong cast, the project boasts gobs of potential, virtually all of which it squanders.

Woof, does Weiner produce a stinker! I wanted to keep track of all the movie’s lousy dialogue, but I worried I’d crash my hard drive. With inane lines such as “I try to avoid things that keep me from feeling”, the movie comes chock full of quotes that no human being would ever utter. I get the impression Weiner wrote a first draft and slapped it on the screen without ever bothering to figure out if the material worked.

The movie never challenges any of its actors. I don’t mind performers sticking with their types, but these parts come across like the most cliché takes on the stereotypical characters in their wheelhouses. How many freewheeling charmers can Wilson portray, and how long can Galifianakis milk the mentally unbalanced man-child?

Maybe I’d accept the trite nature of their roles if they came in the service of a more interesting story. Instead, Here feels flabby and unfocused. It meanders from one stale plot thread to another and threatens to never end; its running time of 114 minutes doesn’t take it to “epic” territory, but it seems like it’s a good 20 minutes too long for this sort of fare.

How can so much talent create such a weak project? Are You Here totally wastes the quality people involved and turns into a near-complete failure. Without charm, depth, meaning or basic entertainment value, this one’s a dud.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

Are You Here appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a consistently pleasing presentation.

Overall sharpness seemed solid. A couple of wide shots looked a smidgen soft, but those were the exception to the rule, as the majority of the flick was accurate and detailed. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws were absent, as the movie looked consistently clean.

Like most films of this sort, Are You Here gave us an amber-tinted palette. Other hues appeared, but the golden feel dominated. Within those parameters, the hues were positive. Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows showed good smoothness and clarity. I felt happy with the transfer.

As for the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Are You Here, it lacked a ton of ambition. The soundfield focused on music and ambience, though it opened up on occasion. For instance, street scenes became a little more involving. Nothing especially memorable occurred, though.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music offered good clarity and range, and effects worked well enough. They didn’t have much to do, but they appeared reasonably accurate. All of this ended up as a perfectly satisfactory soundtrack for this sort of movie.

The Blu-ray provides an audio commentary from writer/director Matthew Weiner, editor Christopher Gay and cinematographer Christopher Manley. All three sit together for a running, screen-specific discussion of story/character areas, sets and locations, cinematography and production design, editing, cast and performances, music, and related subjects.

Weiner dominates this chat – for good and bad. On the positive side, he gives us a fair number of details about the film. On the negative side, he tends to offer “annotated narration” of the movie, as he often does little more than explain what we see; that results in some character/thematic insights but not enough to prevent dull spots. Overall, this ends up as an inconsistent but occasionally useful piece.

The disc opens with an ad for Fading Gigolo. We also get a trailer for Are You Here.

Despite a surfeit of skilled participants, Are You Here turns into a tedious bore. The movie suffers from superficial characters, cliché dialogue and actors who never find the need to leave their comfort zones. The Blu-ray brings us good picture and audio as well as a spotty commentary. Don’t let the big names involved in Here seduce you; stay far away from this tedious clunker.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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