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WISH I WAS HERE (review)

wish_i_was_here_ver2WISH I WAS HERE
Written by Zach Braff and Adam Braff
Directed Zach Braff
Starring Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Joey King and Mandy Patinkin.

Aidan: You can pick any one you want!

Ten years ago, Zach Braff made his directorial debut with GARDEN STATE. His first film seemed to be made for angst-ridden twenty-something’s to watch, so they could think, “This was made just for me! This is exactly how I feel!” It truly touched a great deal of people but for me, it was a bit messy, with pretentious moments galore and unrealistic female characters. With Braff’s latest effort, WISH I WAS HERE, the director demonstrates that he has learned absolutely nothing from his previous mistakes in the years since, and has made a film which is in fact far worse than its predecessor.

 Aidan (Braff) is a struggling actor who just can’t seem to get any roles. His proudest job was working on a dandruff shampoo commercial, so let that give you an idea of how successful he is. His wife, Sarah (Kate Hudson, who seems like her mind is elsewhere in every scene), works a desk job, earning a living while her loser husband bombs in audition after audition. The pair’s kids, Grace (Joey King) and Tucker (Pierce Gagnon), rely on their grandfather, Gabe (Mandy Patinkin), to pay their private Jewish school tuition. Due to expensive experimental treatment for his returning cancer, Gabe is forced to pull funding from his grandchildren’s education. It is then up to Aidan to homeschool his kids until they can go to public school the following semester.


To call WISH I WAS HERE pretentious would be too much of a compliment really. The film is far too obvious for even the dimmest person to think that its poems or rambling monologues hold any deeper meaning. Braff’s biggest problem is that he simply doesn’t know how to write believable, realistic characters. The lack of development in the film is sometimes astounding. The characters’ motivations are so unclear, that many of their actions are not understandable in the least. It seems that any character in the film can be convinced of anything at all once Aiden gives them a silly little speech about it. For example, Aidan’s brother, Noah (Josh Gad), doesn’t speak to his father because of the way he was treated as a child. So Aidan comes along with one of his pep talks and then suddenly everyone is all hugs and kisses again? I don’t think so. Much of WISH I WAS HERE seems to happen for the sake of itself, like the only real reason Grace shaves her head is so that there can be a supposedly cool slow-motion scene of her strutting down the street in a fluorescent pink wig.


Even at a lengthy two hours, WISH I WAS HERE feels rushed. Many plot lines are either left unresolved or conclude unnaturally. I would suggest that the film could’ve worked better in a longer format, say a miniseries, but shoot me now if I have to watch one more second of this drivel. 46,520 people donated $3,105,473 to Braff’s now famous Kickstarter campaign to make this film. Some of those backers even donated over $10,000 and not one of them will ever see any monetary gain from the project’s success. Shame on you Zach Braff; shame on you for taking these people’s hard earned money and making this horrific film with it.

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