“You Are Here” is another entry in the seemingly endless reservoir of indie features focusing on malcontent Gen X’ers having midlife crises roughly a dozen years ahead of schedule. This time around, the location is New York’s East Village and the focus is a shmo named Moe (Tod Peters), an affable would-be artist stuck in a dead-end snoozer of a job. Moe wants to quit his job, but gets suckered by his sleazy boss (indie filmmaker Larry Fessenden in a very amusing performance) to take on the duties of a manager who just committed suicide. Moe’s emotional inertia is mirrored by the wired antics of his eccentric roommate, the dithering of his quasi-girlfriend, and the bumbling of a co-worker pal who is still living at home with his parents.
“You Are Here” is typical “been there, done that” for anyone who sits through independent films. There is plenty of whining about dead-end jobs, plenty of horseplay with silly friends, and too many romantic contrivances to believe. For people supposedly residing in the hipster East Village, the characters come across as remarkably unsophisticated in their attitudes, appearances and behavior (the big gag here is having Moe defecate on his boss’s chair…ha ha ugh). Are all Gen X’ers this immature and unfocused…or are they just the ones who have access to a movie camera?
But while the film hums along at a lethally benign pace, it mercifully never falls into the self-indulgences which forces many similar productions to inevitably implode. This can be credited to the professional acting which gives the film more fuel than Jeff Winner’s quotidian direction and stale-about-the-edges screenplay can provide. As the center of the film, Todd Peters brings a genuinely affably and easy charm which makes his silly character appealing and (to the extent that the screenplay allows) honest. While Randall James is often too broad and manic to offer credibility as his zany roommate, the two men share a strong comedy team rapport when exchanging lightly comic zingers or bickering good-naturedly over each other’s alleged faults. Ajay Naidu and Caroline Hall bring up the support as the incompetent co-worker and sometime love interest, and both infuse their characters with sincerity and wit that takes their stock characters into a fuller dimension.
With more charisma than quality content, “You Are Here” avoids being obnoxious but never quite manages to soar and strike a memorable chord. Still, the film provides more than a little diversion and it never makes the mistake of wearing out its welcome.