Wish I Was Here (2014): Life is an Occasion

Posted: July 28, 2014 in Comedy, Drama

wish-is-was-here-posterFeeling like his life is in a bot of a rut, actor Aidan Bloom is surprised to learn that his father’s cancer is back. Unsure of how to handle the news from his father’s perspective, he quickly has to deal with the secondary effects of the issue. No longer able to pay for his children to go to Hillel, his wife suggests that he homeschool them at least until the end of the year. With no acting prospects on the horizon, he takes up the task of balancing his kids, his father, and trying to decide what to do with his life. In addition to these struggles, Aidan must also deal with taking care of his father’s dog and trying to get his brother to break his stubborn streak and reconnect with their father before it is too late. These crises have an immediate affect on how Aidan continues to look at his life, what he values, and what he needs to do to provide for his family.

Starring: Zach Braff (Aidan Bloom), Pierce Garcon (Tucker Bloom), Kate Hudson (Sarah Bloom), Joey King (Grace Bloom), Alexander Chaplin (Rabbi Rosenberg), Mandy Patinkin (Gabe Bloom), Joh Gad (Noah Bloom), Jim Parsons (Paul), Mark Thudium (Terry), Allan Rich (Rabbi Twersky), Michael Weston (Terry), Ashley Greene (Janine)

While there are several colorful characters in this film, the true focus centered around the existential crisis that Braff’s character experiences from Patinkin’s character’s medical condition. Braff has a fun, childlike personality but seems to be channeling a bit of his other significant role from Garden State. The characters seemed to be going through similar issues with similar conclusions. Garcon and Hudson were entertaining and gave Braff the partnership needed to explore his issues. Hudson was more enjoyable in this role compared to her romantic comedies, where she actually was able to produce a sense of emotional connection, particularly when partnered with the talented Patinkin. It was also a little fun to see Donald Faison make a cameo.

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As the director of his second major picture, Zach Braff seemed to stick within his wheelhouse with a man troubled by a lack of success professionally and fractured relationships personally. Aidan’s struggles with acting had left him in a major rut with his family. His wife was working a job she hated, but she stuck with it to support his dreams. Gabe’s cancer brought forth a new wave of criticism toward Aidan, forcing him to search for meaning following a string of bad news and continued disappointment. While he was seemingly continuing to struggle, he actually started to resolve some of his own problems through a combination of luck and what seemed to be potential divine intervention.

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The most significant challenge with this film was how similar it was to Garden State. Both of Braff’s characters were out of work actors looking for a break. Both of them struggled with family drama and challenging relationships with their fathers. Although some of the relationships were different, family or friends helped both characters discover some of what they had taken for granted. For Braff, it was unclear if he was trying to make a film in the same genre or if he did so by coincidence. While this is not a problem in itself, Garden State was a stronger overall film due to its quirkiness and ability to maintain a more original story.

The film has some very gripping moments with the combination of King, Hudson, and Patinkin, but an uneven presentation kept this film from establishing itself with more range for its director.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5


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