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Review: Wish I Was Here

As vanity projects go, Wish I Was Here is certainly one of the stronger ones to have been made in recent memory. It was so well done, that it automatically has to beg the question why this movie went to Kickstarter to begin with, and I cannot see why a studio would not pick up the script. Despite the Kickstarter notoriety and overall small budget feel the movie works surprisingly well. Wish I Was Here works as a quirky, struggling to make the most out of life, inside the box comedy.

The movie is entirely focused on Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff) and his struggles to keep his family together after receiving a series of devastating blows. He finds out that his children, Grace (Joey King) and Tucker (Pierce Gagnon) have been kicked out of their private Hebrew school, his wife Sarah (Kate Hudson) is being harassed at work, his father Gabe (Mandy Patinkin) has been diagnosed with cancer, and his brother Noah (Josh Gad) wants practically nothing to do with their fathers situation. Aidan struggles to make the right decisions, as he has also put his practically dead acting career at the top of his list instead of his family. He has to be the glue that holds his entire family together, or in the end they will all fall apart and go their separate ways.

The real reason to see this film isn’t the Kickstarter fame or killer soundtrack but the performances of director Zach Braff elicited from his stellar cast. Mandy Patinkin is absolutely brilliant in his ability to create a problem within the family dynamic to progress the story and balance it with the perfect amount of comedic relief needed for the occasionally heavy handed script. Josh Gad seems to have had a lot of fun with his small character as did Pierce Gagnon and Joey King who play the disgruntled children to near perfection. The only thing that diminishes this movie is some underdevelopment within a few characters for example, Kate Hudson unfortunately just seems to be in the movie though because  Zach Braff wanted to have Kate Hudson in the movie , otherwise it would be a stronger film.

The only glowing problem within, Wish I Was Here is that there were odd side stories that were introduced but truly has no purpose within the film itself. They would have more purpose and meaning to it if Braff had spent more time creating the situations and further developing the struggles throughout rather than of opting for weak subplots that never truly take off. Removing these odd moments would have made the film tightened scenes that otherwise seemed to drag and certainly increased the enjoyment of the film.

Wish I Was Here is without a doubt a film faced with some difficulties amongst the writing and direction. It felt as if Zach Braff wanted to tell a few additional stories and had some difficulty choosing what to cut away from his film. However, what really worked in the film is the excellent performances for the most part which masked the other overarching problems. Wish I Was Here is certainly an enjoyable time at the movies, even with a few bumps on the way.

[star v=35]