Wish I Was Here (R)

Comedy 114 August 1, 2014
By Stephanie Zacharek
There are plenty of carving knives out for Zach Braff and his crowdfunded film, Wish I Was Here. The reality is that the film's disappointingly OK, a movie made by a guy who had one indie success a decade ago but who hasn't been able to get a movie financed since.

Wish I Was Here is at least stretching toward something, and even if its reach exceeds its grasp, Braff's earnest determination as a filmmaker and performer helps smooth out some of the awkward bumps. Braff plays Aidan, a desperately unemployed actor trying hard to live and work in Los Angeles. Wife Sarah (Kate Hudson) essentially supports him and the couple's two children, with her tedious job at the water authority, where she tolerates insidious sexual harassment from a co-worker.

But that's hardly the beginning of their problems: Aidan's cantankerous father, Gabe (Mandy Patinkin), is dying of cancer. Aidan and Sarah aren't particularly religious, which is just one reason they feel blindsided by the death of a parent: They lament that they don't know how to explain death to their kids because they don't know what they believe themselves.

If Braff is guilty of anything, it's of sending the story sprawling in too many directions at once. If you can get past that and his occasional whininess, Braff is adequately sympathetic, here. Aidan is well past the age when he needs to realize that his man-child pout won't get him everything he wants, and once in a while, you see that recognition hit: Braff's half–zonked-out demeanor gives way to something more adult, a layer or two of gravitas we haven't seen in him before.
Zach Braff Zach Braff, Josh Gad, Mandy Patinkin, Ashley Greene, Donald Faison, Jim Parsons, Kate Hudson, Joey King, McKaley Miller, Pierce Gagnon Zach Braff, Adam J. Braff Stacey Sher, Michael Shamberg, Zach Braff, Adam Braff Focus Features

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