Zach Braff Miserably Attempts To Relive The Glory Days Of Garden State In Wish I Was Here.

Wish I Was Here.
Director: Zach Braff.
Writer: Zach Braff.
Cast: Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Josh Gad, Ashley Greene.
Where it's playing: AMC Northpark, Magnolia and Angelika Plano.

If you ever wanted to watch Zach Braff pat himself on the back for two hours, you're in luck! Wish I Was Here is just the movie for you.

But if that's the case, you probably already knew that. Hell, you probably helped him fund the thing on Kickstarter.

And why not? The Scrubs star established a well-deserved career as a filmmaker-to-watch 10 years ago with his directorial debut, the painfully great Garden State. Zeroing in on the hardships of being twenty-something, that film is an honest take on growing up. Skillfully, Garden State did two things, it won over critics and it firmly cemented itself in the hearts and minds of hopeless romantics everywhere.

In turn, Braff’s career as a filmmaker was red hot with that release. And yet it took him 10 years to take the reigns on another film. Why? Tough to say. But now his next feature, Wish I Was Here, is here after all that wait time.

Unfortunately, it's an immature and almost unwatchable coming-of-age story about a guy too old to be coming-of-age.

It'd be better off called Wish It Would Go Away.

First things first: No, Wish I Was Here isn't a direct sequel to Garden State. Still, it feels like it. The story follows Aidan Bloom (Braff), a 35-year-old struggling actor (sound familiar?) living in Los Angeles. He's married with two kids, and his wife Sarah (Kate Hudson) foots the bills as he chases his dream of breaking out of commercial work and into film and TV. And when his ill father (Mandy Patinkin) tells him he can no longer pay for Bloom’s kid’s expensive tuition at a private Jewish school, Aidan throws in the towel on life (because, it seems, God forbid his kids from attending a public school) and decides to take his kids on a road trip of self-discovery and enlightenment around town. Cue some good music playing over slow-motion walking sequences and there you have Wish I Was Here in a nutshell.

Some of Braff's friends pop up in the movie — old Garden State co-star Jim Parsons and best Scrubs pal Donald Faison, most notably, although it seems as if they're there only for nostalgic reasons, like, “Hey look! It's That Guy!! So funny! LOL!” Their characters serve no purpose in the story at all.

Meanwhile, Aidan's brother Noah (Josh Gad) lives in a mobile home, wants nothing to do with his family or anything at all, but is desperate to finish building a suit to wear a Comic-Con to impress a girl (Ashley Greene) who's way out of his league. That's his whole storyline — just more mumbo-jumbo to fill empty space in an empty movie.

Worst than just empty, Wish I Was Here never really goes nowhere. It clocks in around 120 minutes, most of which is just Braff doing what he appears to know best — acting immaturely.

In Garden State, you understood the main character’s dilemma — he had zero direction in his life. However, he knew his life was on hold and wanted to change that. In Wish I Was Here, Braff has Benjamin Buttoned his character, which is to say that his outlook on life moves backwards. He's selfish, juvenile and a terrible father figure. He doesn't care for responsibility or that his dying father has paid a lot of money so that his kids would get the best schooling around. His idea of fatherhood is little more than taking the kiddos out and buying stupid outfits to wear around time, which serves as a cool enough visual but rings hollow as the rather nonexistent plot goes.

Beyond a once-promising filmmaker losing his former sheen, nothing really happens in Wish I Was Here. It's just a gutless film — and, worse, it's pretty guaranteed to irritate every last nerve raw.

Wish that weren't true, but it is.

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