Film Review – Wish I Was Here (2014)

Wish I Was Here

Title – Wish I Was Here (2014)

Director – Zach Braff (Garden State)

Cast – Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Joey King, Pierce Gagnon, Mandy Patinkin, Josh Gad, Ashley Greene, Jim Parsons

Plot – Perennial man child and wannabe actor Aiden Bloom (Braff) must start to come to terms with some of life’s harsher realities after his father Gabe (Patinkin) is diagnosed with cancer and his loving/supporting wife Sarah (Hudson) begins to question his seemingly illusive dreams.

Eventually things get tragic enough and then they circle around to comedy”

Review by Eddie on 16/02/2015

Wish I Was Here really wants you to like it, like really badly. With a cult fan base of loyal followers at his behest, director, co-writer and star Zach Braff has leveraged off his work in Scrubs and his success with indie darling Garden State to source crowdfunding to the tune of millions for this wannabe hipster dramedy that just so dearly wants you to appreciate it’s quirks and life lessons, yet in doing so forgets that what we really wanted was a solid narrative for these eccentricities to come out of.

I truly can’t recall from recent memory seeing a film that just so desperately wants to succeed and by this I mean that Wish I Was Here is a film that is striving, nothing comes naturally here. Braff and his brother Adam’s script is so often filled with tripe laden dialogue that the experienced cast of actors including Kate Hudson and Mandy Patinkin just can’t convincingly deliver. Films in the vein of Wish I Was Here succeed when these scripted moments feel real, when things seem to flow on in a natural progression and the tales characters feel real also, Wish I Was Here struggles in all these aspects. It’s hard to nail down just where things fall apart at the seams here but most of the films downsides must surely stem from Braff himself.

As a writer, director and actor Braff has proved himself to be a likeable if limited ranged screen presence but here with his man child Aiden things really don’t work out to well. Aiden is a guy quite content with acting like a child as his wife goes about the business of being an adult and worrying about the kids and it’s not to say that man child’s aren’t often endearing but Braff just isn’t on key enough here to make Aiden work. The other elements working against the film is the consistent throwing in of incredibly ill-advised CGI scenes of Aiden as a spaceman, random moments of supposed joyous occasions like test driving Aston Martin’s that seem solely devised so Braff could drive a sweet car or other completely un-needed scenes like Aiden’s brother Noah’s (played by Josh Gad) journey to Comic-Con. Braff needed to keep things simple, not keep things hip.

There is a lot of fan service going on here in Wish I Was Here and Braff is clearly trying to cater to a whole range of different audiences that makes his film feel like a melting pot of a billion different ideas and oh-so funny life musings yet it never becomes anything greater than a watchable distraction with some nice easy listening backing tracks. Wish I Was Here wants to be funny, it wants to be sad and it wants to teach you lessons about all the important things it life but what it sadly doesn’t do is become anything memorable. I think if I were a backer of this project, I’d be wanting my money back.

2 swear jars out of 5


17 responses to “Film Review – Wish I Was Here (2014)

  1. I was actually one of the people that backed this film on Kickstarter. I really loved Garden State and thought Wish I Was Here was going to be a great substitute.

    Here’s where he messed up:

    1. Like others have said, the film was trying to hard to convey the hardships of life and ultimately fell flat. Braff needs to just stick to acting within other people’s scripts.

    2. He did NOT do the Kickstarter properly (this caused a huge PR/publicity problem and confirmed to many of the film’s skeptics that this film wasn’t worth seeing)
    During the Kickstarter, all of the backers (myself included) felt great to see the behind the scenes of the making of the film via the backer’s only website that had exclusive videos, playlists, and prints. The kickstarter backers got really angry when Braff decided to open up the site to anyone. So anyone and everyone could start accessing the videos and other stuff on the site. So basically all the backers that donated their money to the film didn’t really get much in return.

    The online screenings held for backers had glitches. As part of my reward for backing, I got to go to an advanced film premiere for the movie. After the film, the approx. 250 people in the audience eagerly waited for Braff so they could get pictures and autographs. Braff said he was “busy” and had to leave. That happened at all 8 of the advanced film screenings. People weren’t happy about that.

    So all in all, it was both the film and the way Braff handled the Kickstarter for ultimately how the film wasn’t that good…and didn’t do that good.

    I regret even donating movie to the movie…

    • Far out mate cheers for sharing man! That is some pretty hectic stuff a real shame that his hardcore fans probably are feeling so ripped off. The pitfalls of kickstarter are pretty full on.

  2. Basically a ponzi scheme in movie form. If you are going to take people’s money at least try to make something good

  3. Huge Braff fan, Scrubs is my favorite show and loved garden state but I have yet to see this movie. Nothing about it jumped out at me and the preview made me NOT want to see it. I know one day, probably as a netflix movie, will watch this but your review has reinforced my fears! Great review!

  4. Pingback: Film Review – Going in Style (2017) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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