I liked Garden State when it came out back in 2004. And Scrubs holds a special place in my heart as one of the few sitcoms I can still watch (probably not the later seasons). So I was borderline excited to find that Zach Braff had managed to crowd-fund a new movie.
Wish I Was Here is the story of a dude who's still struggling to be a working actor despite having two kids and a wife who's working way too much. He has a bad relationship with his father, and a brother that lacks all form of communication skills. And despite it all, he can't seem to let go of this fantasy that he is doing the right thing for all of the people in his life... because honestly, he's not. He's really pretty useless as a person. I apologize if my opinion's taking over this little bracket, but Zach Braff's Aidan Bloom doesn't even try to find another way. He never searches for a night job, an obvious step if he needs to put food on the table, and he constantly repeats this obnoxious line about how he and his brother used to pretend they were superheroes, but thinks that maybe they're just the normal people... "the ones who need saving." If that's really the point of this movie, there's a reason nobody wanted to make it. But what's worse is, that idea has practically nothing to do with the story Zach and his brother Adam chose to tell. Every step of the way, Aidan could take a personal step to fixing his own life. He doesn't actually need rescuing... nor does he ever seem to get it. What depresses me most is this idea that everything can end happily ever after without ever dealing with the real issue. Kate Hudson's Sarah is too understanding and it feels like she would let Aidan get away with murder if she thought it would help him have "passion" again. But she's the one most affected by Aidan's laziness. Maybe there's some hyper-truth in this, but it feels like they take her enabling to a mad extreme here.
I'm not knocking the performances. Actually I think the cast did really well considering what they had to work with. Joey King, who played Aidan's daughter Grace, did a really great job. At 15 years old, she's already got a ton of experience and really let that shine through. Pierce Gagnon was fun to watch as well. And as mean as he's said to be, Mandy Patinkin is still a very quality actor. But Josh Gad had practically nothing to do in this movie, and really didn't do anything with the screen time he had. I'm still trying to figure out how this guy has a career, but that's probably a little harsh. He just hasn't given me a performance that I can actually sink my teeth into and after 36 (count em 36) projects in the film and television industry, one would assume there would be at least one performance of note. I'm not exactly a huge Kate Hudson fan either, but her performance (even being the complete enabler that she was) was pretty good. Even Zach Braff had slight stirrings of emotion (which is rare given the kind of part he usually plays).
But none of this was enough in the end. Because the script wasn't up to snuff. There were some fun one-liners. But at the end of the day, that's practically all the movie was. Every moment seemed like it was trying to be THE moment. And that's a failing formula. Your audience absolutely needs to breathe between big epiphanies. And wit can only take a script so far.
Wish I Was Here really shouldn't exist. And I'm sorry for all of the people who helped Zach to crowd-fund the project, because the product they were expecting is absolutely not what made it to theaters. And I would absolutely not recommend that anyone go see it because it didn't do much of anything for me. I'd still see a future Zach Braff project, I would just have to pray it was a lot more like Garden State and a lot less like this.