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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Movie Review - Wish I Was Here

Wish I Was Here (2014)
Starring Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Pierce Gagnon, Joey King, Mandy Patinkin, and Josh Gad
Directed by Zach Braff

Wish I Was Here is no Garden State, but I appreciate what film director and screenwriter Zach Braff brings to the table.  There's a melancholic happiness (oxymoronic, I know) that seems to permeate throughout his two feature films that gives the audience the appropriate balance of sadness and joy for the characters he creates.  Unfortunately, there's a failure to connect on an emotional level present in Braff's second feature which is a somewhat large flaw given the film's storyline.

Braff has grown up since Garden State and here he plays Aidan Bloom, husband to Sarah (Kate Hudson), father to Grace and Tucker (Joey King and Pierce Gagnon), brother to Noah (Josh Gad), and son to Gabe (Mandy Patinkin).  Aidan has always longed to be an actor, but he finds himself struggling as of late to find roles, forcing his wife to be the family's sole breadwinner.  When Aidan discovers that his father has failed to pay the semester's tuition at Grace and Tucker's rabbinical private school, he meets with Gabe only to discover that his father's once-in-remission cancer has reared its ugly head again and he must use his grandchildren's tuition money to pay for experimental treatment.  With his kids forced out of school, Aidan finds his life turned upside down as he takes on home schooling in addition to trying to take care of his ailing father.

Wish I Was Here works best when it focuses on the immediate household of Aidan -- his relationship with his kids, his relationship with his wife.  When the film ventures outside of the home -- to Noah who has had a rocky relationship with Gabe all his life; to Sarah at work who's dealing with an unseemly co-worker; to some odd daydreams that find Aidan in a spacesuit -- the film feels like its lost its way.  Zach Braff and his brother Adam don't quite narrow the focus enough and it ends up proving detrimental to the crux of the story which is Aidan's relationship with his father and his coping mechanisms with feeling as if he was never good enough for his dad or a good enough man for his own family.  This film should've had moments that grabbed me -- and it didn't.

That said, Braff deserves additional opportunities and the fact that he's only made two films so far in a decade is a bit disheartening.  Quite frankly, I love the tender, charming, and melancholic happiness (there's that oxymoron again) that's seemingly inherent in his creative process.  He's got something and I wish he'd be given the opportunity to explore his talent behind the lens and on paper a bit more.  I may not have loved Wish I Was Here, but I certainly recognize the potential that is there in Mr. Braff and I hope we don't have to wait another ten years to see some more output from him.

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

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