Matthew Weiner, pictured below, but I do know that his Mad Men is hands-down the best American television series I have ever seen. This of course had me a little worried about his debut as a filmmaker: So much to live up to, after all. I am happy to report that his entry into movie-making, ARE YOU HERE, which he wrote and directed, is a lovely piece of work: fresh, funny, moving and real. You can think of it in a number of different ways, one of these being a modern-day screwball comedy (with pot standing in for alcohol). It is also a kind of back-and-forth road trip (for the automobile and the soul). Best of all, it a movie in which characters actually learn and grow and change. Believably.
Zach Galifianakis) has as many bad as good points, that anti-depressant drugs can be useful, that the lifestyle of a successful "player" (Owen Wilson's character), along with the easy money and sex, is so much fun that you might not want to give it up, and finally that compromise can actually result in something better than what recently preceded it.
Amy Poehler, above, right) into the mix, as well as Ben's father's widow (Laura Ramsey, below), a young woman who leavens the movie with some real surprise. The script is peppered with smart and often funny one-liners -- "Honestly, I don't know why the farmer and the cowhand can't be friends," will have some of us Oklahoma! fans chuckling -- while other bits of dialog ("Just to be clear: If I'm sober, you're interested?") are sure to bring us, as well as certain characters, up short.
Millennium Entertainment and running 113 minutes -- opens theatrically this Friday, August 22. In New York City, catch it at the AMC Empire 25; in L.A. at the Sundance Sunset Cinemas or the Laemmle Noho 7. To see all currently scheduled playdates, with cities and theaters, click here and then click on TICKETS at the top of the screen.