Wish I Was Here: The Sort of Sequel to Garden State

Wish I Was Here: Review

Those of you know me, might know that I am a bit of a monster when it comes to media consumption. One thing I particularly enjoy is going to the theatre, seeing a movie and then discussing it relentlessly afterwards. As an exercise for myself as a writer and as a means to give my wife a break from my constant analysis and reanalysis of movies and television shows, I’ve decided to start including reviews into my blog, the first of which will be for the Zach Braff written, directed and Kickstarter funded Wish I Was Here.

First of all, as I write this, the current Rotten Tomatoes score for the film is 40%. I let you know this from the beginning in case you want to dismiss my opinion, that “this movie is worth seeing, maybe even twice.”

Aiden Bloom is a struggling actor in his late 30’s with two kids, a loving wife, an underachieving brother and a dying father. Mandy Patinkin delivers a great albeit cold performance as Zach Braff and Josh Gadd’s father Gabe. It is Gabe’s declining battle with cancer that actually forms the launching point for the movie’s plot. Through the loss of financial support from Gabe, Aidan is forced to home school his two children, both of whom manage to steal all of the scenes that they are in. The Judaic faith plays a larger role in I Wish I Was Here then it did in Garden State, where the themes of spirituality and guidance are really explored by both Aidan’s quest to deal with his own life, and the death of his father as well as his attempts to teach his children how to cope with a seemingly imminent loss.

A surprising bright spot in the film was the performance of Kate Hudson. Hudson does a superb job with Sarah, a woman who is supporting her entire family through a job she hates and is in fact herself, searching for her own direction. Both Hudson and Gadd suffer from what I feel is the movie’s greatest flaw, to grand a scope. As where the movie just barely gives us enough time with Aidan for us to truly invest in his journey, the time we are given with Sarah is far too short and with Gadd is basically non-existent.

The acting in this film was spot on, cameos of Scrubs alum like Donald Faison, were not overdone and a great nod to those of us who have followed Braff’s career from those first voiceover’s to now. The kids in the film especially Joey King (Grace) add another layer of emotion to the film. The music is exactly what you’d expect it to be, many have lamented its use as a crutch to aid in the elicitation of an emotional response; however, the frequency and the timing is almost identical to that of Garden State and there wasn’t such disdain for the grammy winning soundtrack then.

In summation I Wish I Was Here does a lot of things really well, the final scenes are acted with just the right amount of loss and hope that Braff’s writing has become known for. The biggest fault I find with the movie is that Braff tries to hit too many themes. He has created these great, deep characters, and then got great actors giving great performances to bring them to life, it’s just a shame that the movie failed to truly realize all of their potential.

If you’re looking for a “song that’ll change your life” it’s likely the Imogen Heap Cover.

It’s not Garden State, but Braff’s second effort still provides a great balance of laughter and heartache. I Wish I Was Here ultimately aims to leave the audience as deep in self contemplation as Garden State did, and for those of us still chasing or searching for our “Dream” I believe it succeeds.

3.5 out of 5

+Great Characters, Dialogue, Acting

– Too big a scope, Not Enough Time

SK

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