Monday, August 11, 2014

Movie Review: "Wish I Was Here" (2014)

Movie"Wish I Was Here"
Director: Zach Braff
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes
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Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff) is a struggling actor who is financially supported by his wife Sarah (Kate Hudson). She works a mundane job inputting data into a spreadsheet, and they are having trouble supporting their two kids, Grace (Joey King) and Tucker (Pierce Gagnon). He has recently learned that his father, Gabe (Mandy Patinkin), has been re-diagnosed with cancer and that his treatment will make him unable to help with the children's private Jewish schooling any longer. Aidan is trying to deal with his father's impending death, homeschooling his kids, and watching his dad's dog, and doesn't get much or any help from his reclusive younger brother Noah (Josh Gad). This puts Adian at a crossroads, causing him to reflect on his own life choices, to decide what he ultimately wants to do in life, and whether or not he should give up on his acting dream.

This movie is basically a continuation on the themes and plot points of "Garden State," just ten years later.

Zach Braff seems to specialize in these later life coming-of-age stories that typically revolve around the death of a parent. There are major milestones in a person's life and they always revolve around beginnings and endings, as every end brings a new beginning. These are the moments that shape us as people and make us who we are and who we are going to be. It is one of these moments that Braff encapsulates in "Wish I Was Here." This movie is a mix of some pretty stellar acting, some overly ostentatious displays of soul searching and some truly WTF moments.

Joey King and Mandy Patinkin are the two actors in the film who really stole the show for us. Patinkin is a legend, and though he's sedated and sick through most of this film, he manages to pull it off flawlessly. King is a star in her own right. She plays her part with such conviction and truth that you'd hardly notice she is a child. She seems very mature for her age at times and I can't wait to see what the future holds for her. Kate Hudson has one of the best scenes in the movie and she plays the supportive wife figure very well. It's nice to see her on screen again. Josh Gad has a pretty important scene towards the end of the film, and he seems to have a niche as a nerdy loner/unknown genius type. Zach Braff, as we mentioned, pretty much reprises his "Garden State" role, just 10 years later, and though not the same character, he is still a soul-searching and struggling actor experiencing a spiritual and potentially life-altering moment of truth where he must decide who he wants to be. The only role we didn't care for was that of Tucker, who was rather obnoxiously played by Pierce Gagnon. Cameo roles from Jim Parsons and Donald Faizon are always a treat to see pop up in Braff's films.

Many people seem to be annoyed or angry with Braff, as this film was the result of a Kickstarter project (where people, in this case, his fans, can to your cause). In fact, I have seen the comparison of Braff taking money from fans "like a millionaire being on welfare" thrown around quite a few times. I'm not sure what they expected, but we don't think this movie is as bad as people are making it out to be. Sure, a couple of scenes could have been omitted with some tweaking here or there, but all in all, it flowed decently. But, a killer soundtrack and tugging at heartstrings can only get you so far in film.

This movie screams of a pretentious indie flick, and many viewers will have a problem with that. It does seem rather bloated and self-important at times, but there were moments throughout the film that we loved, and it was these moments that kept us interested. It's an eclectic mix of tender father-and-children moments, generous displays of love and affection, some spiritual awakenings, and weighing the fantasy with the reality in life. Perhaps BigJ and I simply identify with it at this point in our lives because we have experienced some of these same issues in the last couple of years, but it definitely got to both of us at certain points. Overall, it's not that bad and did manage to squeeze a few tears and laughs out of us.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 40%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Elysium"

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