American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
A comedy with no laughs. A drama disconnected from any known reality. It’s tempting to diagnose “Are You Here” with schizophrenic genre disorder. But that just sounds like an excuse to cover up what it really is, an unmitigated mess that feels the need to present yet more iterations of that tired Hollywood species known as man-child run-amok-ous.
Sometimes it tries to be a “Broadcast News”-style comedy, with Owen Wilson as the type of smarmy philandering moocher he has done countless times before. The difference here is that he is a local TV weatherman in Annapolis, Md., who makes Bill Murray’s on-air forecaster in “Groundhog Day” seem like a paragon of repeated virtue.
Wilson’s Steve Dallas is a regular one-man rodeo all right—full of bull and proud of it. He has a constant need to have a potential bed partner at the ready at all time—be it co-worker, casual pickup or prostitute. He also has a propensity to peep at his shapely across-the-way neighbor as she disrobes in front of her windows each night, and not in a Jimmy Stewart non-creepy way. Then there is his charming habit of pretending to be able to pay the bill with his worthless credit cards and his constant use of mind-altering substances even on the job.
Other times, “Are You Here” appears to be a portrait of a dysfunctional family in the vein of “August: Osage County” when Steve’s best—and seemingly only—friend, Ben, learns that his father has died and the funeral requires a road trip to rural Pennsylvania. To mention that this hirsute near-hermit, manic-depressive idealist and fellow pothead residing in a mobile shack whose interior decorator was obviously the Unabomber is played by Zach Galifianakis is akin to stating the obvious.