FILM REVIEW: Wish I Was Here

Wish I Was Here (Zach Braff, 2014)

Pierce Gagnon, Zach Braff, & Joey King
Pierce Gagnon, Zach Braff, & Joey King

Zach Braff managed to piss a lot of people off with this movie, and that’s before it had even been made. Due to difficulties finding investors, Braff used Kickstarter to raise funds to shoot his screenplay. Many of those angry loser types on social media criticised him for not contributing the full amount himself (rather than a partial amount), instead relying on his fans to make up the difference.

Well, go stick it up your old wazoo, haters. No one was forced to donate. His fans wanted to. So go cry me a river of tears in your mum’s basement where you probably live.

Zach Braff, Mandy Patinkin, Joey King & Pierce Gagnon
Zach Braff, Mandy Patinkin, Joey King & Pierce Gagnon

Zach Braff co-wrote, directed, and starred in Wish I Was Here, which has an auto-biographical feel to it, however, as far as I’m aware, it is mostly fictional. Married with two kids, Aidan Bloom (Braff) is a struggling actor, whose father Gabe (Mandy Patinkin) foots the bill for his kids’ education at a private school. When Gabe is diagnosed with cancer, he has to withdraw his financial support, leaving Aidan to home-school his children, Grace (Joey King) and Tucker (Pierce Gagnon). Meanwhile, his breadwinner wife Sarah (Kate Hudson) has to work in a job she hates, and Aidan’s estranged brother Noah (Josh Gad) is called upon to make amends with his father before it is too late.

Kate Hudson & Zach Braff
Kate Hudson & Zach Braff
Gorg.
Gorg.

Themes of family, faith, and parental responsibility make for a very touching film, with plenty of humour dispersed throughout. The LA beach setting is gorgeous – can a deep and meaningful conversation on a warm beach at night, beer in hand, ever possibly be anything less than wonderful? There are cute quirks in abundance, with Aidan’s video-game like fantasies, Gabe’s unique present from his grand-daughter, and the gorgeous kids, particular highlights. The legendary Mandy Patinkin was the obvious stand-out cast member. And I think a film can only be improved with the inclusion of Josh Gad – his voice alone makes me giggle, and his delivery of Braff’s material was golden. A brief appearance from Jim Parsons was also good value. Without doubt though, the biggest cracker in the cast was nine-year-old Pierce Gagnon. He was adorable AND hilarious. Braff and Hudson were fine, but didn’t exactly stretch their range. Hudson’s role was rather thankless which irked me a little, though she did have one good scene with Patinkin.
clairestbearestreviews_filmreview_wishiwashere_zachbraffI wouldn’t have initially used the word ‘sappy’ in describing this film, however, the day after I saw it, someone described the film as such, and now I can’t think of this film without immediately thinking of the word. Was I too easily manipulated by the sap at the time of viewing to the point where I couldn’t view it objectively, or am I simply being too easily affected by another viewer’s opinion? I’m not entirely sure. I suppose the film had its cutesy moments, but I like cute. And now I really want to go have a beer on a LA beach.

3.5 stars

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