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Review and Roundup: Matthew Weiner Misfires with Critically Panned 'You Are Here'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 10, 2013 at 1:44PM

Matthew Weiner's contemporary comedy "You Are Here," an exploration of male friendship starring Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis, doesn't work. How could the creator of "Mad Men" so miss the mark?
Matthew Weiner
Matthew Weiner

It’s understandable that for his first stab at feature filmmaking, Matthew Weiner might want to explore territory far from that of his brilliant long-form television drama, Mad Men. But it’s disappointing, even downright depressing, that the man who invented Don Draper couldn’t come up with anything better than the tired bromance refugees played by Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis in You Are Here. While it aims to explore the crooked path to male self-knowledge and a more harmonious place in the world, this tonal mess rarely puts a foot right as comedy and makes only marginal improvements when it turns poignant toward the end.


“You Are Here” is Matthew Weiner’s contribution to the modern man-child genre: a study of toxic selfishness presented at comedy that isn’t nearly funny enough for a film starring Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis, and nowhere near as serious as Weiner’s celebrated TV work. What “Mad Men” fans itching to see Weiner’s first attempt at feature directing don’t realize is that he penned this script well before his hit show existed, and the two projects share almost no creative DNA. Technically, it’s no worse than the average studio comedy...


Beyond an overstuffed screenplay, Weiner's biggest mistake is an attempt to fashion a James L. Brooks-esque dramedy out of the proceedings. It should be noted that even Brooks only succeeded with his own formula a few times (this critic would argue only twice) and it's a specific tone that's incredibly difficult to duplicate. "You Are Here" switches from slapstick comedy to serious family drama to romantic comedy to a mental health awareness drama over and over and over again. Even Brooks would have dropped at least two out of the four categories. Granted, Weiner directs a few individual scenes that are at least interesting to watch, but they all seem like they are cut from different films.


Generally the comedy sits uncomfortably with the drama. Weiner has made a sporadically funny but awkward film with a surprisingly conservative heart (surely nobody still thinks beards are antisocial?), and finished it off with a kiss-and-rainstorm climax that the Mad Men team would have laughed out of the room.

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What is most difficult to comprehend here is what drove Weiner to devote so much time and energy to so lackluster a story. There is nothing wrong with a change of pace, or with using success in one medium to take on something very different in another. But why this story, at this time? Why saddle talented actors like Wilson, Galifianakis and Poehler with hackneyed roles and subpar material? And how can we avoid comparing the film with “Mad Men”? Too many questions, yes, but the truth is, “You Are Here” is a film so bad that these questions are the only thing worth discussing.

This article is related to: Reviews, Reviews, Matthew Weiner, You Are Here, Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.