Director: Zach Braff
Cast: Zach Braff, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Joey King, Pierce Gagnon, Mandy Patinkin, Ashley Greene
Running Time: 106 minutes
After the cult-like success of his 2004 debut GARDEN STATE, Scrubs alum Zach Braff returned to the big screen with WISH I WAS HERE, one of the best decisions he could’ve made, in my humble opinion.
Aidan Bloom (Braff) is husband to Sarah (Hudson), father to Grace (King) and Tucker (Gagnon), and a struggling actor determined to make it in Hollywood. However, with his last big gig a dandruff commercial, things aren’t going Aidan’s way, especially when his staunchly religious and pessimistic father breaks some of his own bad news. With Aidan now standing at a major life fork-in-the-road, it’s up to him to bring his family together (including younger brother Noah (Gad)) to tackle the changes together, unknowingly putting him on a path of self-discovery.
As with GARDEN STATE, this was obviously a very personal and emotional mission for Braff. Sourcing the funding through KickStarter, concluding the project was a promise to fans to bring them something to remember his auteur-like style by, if this was to be his last silver screen adventure. With several similarities noticeable between his past and present films, one of the most obvious is the idea that the main character grows and develops spiritually as the narrative progresses, with some finding links between Braff as 2004’s Andrew Largeman and 2014’s Aidan.
However, that’s not to say that Braff hasn’t developed in style and technique in the ten years separating the films. WISH I WAS HERE focuses mainly on the relationships between fathers and their children, and how his connection to his father has shaped his life, his loves, his career, and his religious beliefs – or lack thereof. At times highly emotional, at others it’s like we’ve been transported back to a vintage Scrubs episode; the film is a rollercoaster of tears and laughter from start to finish, a sentimental but sincere look at how family shapes who we are as people.
Touching performances from everyone involved throughout (standouts include Joey King and Kate Hudson, the female powerhouses shining through a narrative focusing heavily on ‘the man’), this is a must-see for any true Braff fan, and is one of my favourite releases from 2014.
[usr=5] WISH I WAS HERE is released on Blu-ray and DVD today.