Zach Braff A Long Way From "Garden State"
Zach Braff was come a long way from “Garden State.” “Wish I Was Here” is his deepest, most profound effort to date as writer-director-star. For one thing he is 10 years older than when his debut effort came out in 2004. He is a lot more famous thanks to his role in “Scrubs.” He is now dealing with adult issues: marriage, parenthood, career choices, religious faith, failing parents and more.
I found much to admire in “Wish I Was Here,” which was written by Zach and his brother Adam Braff. Yet there is a certain amount of controversy surrounding the film, mostly from the fact Braff raised over $3 million of his $6 million budget through a Kickstarter campaign. Some feel he took advantage of his fans. There is a certain anti-Zach Braff faction too. Some people just don’t like him or how he looks or how he thinks. I am not one of those people. I admire that Braff has achieved such success without movie-star good looks. I admire that he tries to say something of substance.
“Wish I Was Here” begins largely as a flat-out comedy. Braff is Aiden Bloom, a struggling Los Angeles actor who hasn’t had a paying gig since a dandruff commercial some time ago. His poor wife Sarah (adorable Kate Hudson) struggles to pay the bills at a dreary clerical job, where she is harassed by a chauvinist pig co-worker.
Their 12-year-old daughter Grace (Joey King) is coping with the onset of puberty, while 6-year-old Tucker (Pierce Gagnon) wonders why he can’t have more expensive cool things.
Aiden’s brother Noah (Josh Gad) is a misanthrope and virtual hermit who lives in a junky trailer with a million-dollar view of Santa Monica surf. Father Saul Bloom (the great Mandy Patinkin) is a difficult man with a dark secret: his cancer is terminal and he can no longer foot the bills for Hebrew school.
These impending crises will tax Aiden and Sarah to their emotional limits as the film turns darker in its act two. Playing small but strategic roles are Ashley Greene as Noah’s attractive neighbor and Comic Con fan Janine and Jim Parsons (“Big Bang Theory) as a fellow struggling actor who does Aiden a big favor.
“Wish I Was Here” is basically about doing the right thing for one another. For that I think Zach Braff did the right thing in making this movie.