Director: Zach Braff
Writers: Zach Braff, Adam J. Braff
Cast: Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Joey King, Jim Parsons
Runtime: 120 min
It’s time for another summer passion project, and this time it comes in the form of a dramatic comedy slice of life written, directed, and starring by Zach Braff. Although Braff has directed other films, as well as a number of Scrubs episodes, it could be said that this film is his most serious project yet, and following the success of Garden State, his big chance to consolidate himself as not only an actor but as a filmmaker. Wish I Was Here could do just that with its lighthearted comedy and well paced drama.
Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff) is an actor struggling to find consistent work in order to help provide for his family. Despite the fact that his wife Sarah (Kate Hudson) allows him to pursue his dream, the pressure on the family is drawing them further and further apart. After finding out that his father (Mandy Patinkin) has cancer, Aidan feels as if his whole world were falling apart, but he will find that this will be the perfect opportunity to try to reunite his family in the hopes of fixing that which had been broken for too long.
Most will probably remember Zach Braff from the hit comedy show Scrubs, and although his utterly oblivious and irreverent character is what he is mostly known for, it is refreshing to see him exploring different facets of his acting abilities. Although he maintains an obvious comedic tone in Wish I Was Here, there is a serious and earnest side that is also shown through his character. Since the film is directed and written by him it might not be too hard to assume that many of the experiences shown in the film are personal, and it’s interesting to see him playing the part of a struggling actor, something that very well could have been his own reality. I found Kate Hudson’s character to be equally and earnest and even more charming. Although Hudson is known for playing the more outgoing and laid back characters of romantic comedies, her personality in the film gives the atmosphere a warm tone, and I quite enjoyed her time on screen as someone who brings reason to the chaos, and as the character that delivers some of the best lines.
Wish I Was Here is pretty standard in terms of comedy and story. It’s your typical man-with-a-crisis-who-learns-to-fix-it film, but it’s charming and the family dynamic was quite moving. The film is very heavy on jokes regarding the Jewish community, and people who can identify with this will probably have a better time understanding and relating to this sort of comedy. However, this does not alienate the spectator, and the film has something for everyone. I found it refreshing to watch the main character show a vulnerable side, and although he maintains quite a few characteristics of characters in movies of this kind, at least there is some sort of decent emotional and psychological involvement with the character. The film follows a formula that makes you laugh at the right times and cry at the right ones, so I would not claim it to be the revelation of the year, but it is certainly much better than other comedies that have come out this summer! If you’re in the lookout for a non slap-stick and earnest comedy, then you have found the right one.