WISH I WAS HERE (2014)

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Directed By: Zach Braff
Written By: Adam J. Braff & Zach Braff
Cinematography By: Lawrence Sher
Editor: Myron I. Kerstein 

Cast: Zach Braff, Joey King, Kate Hudson, Josh Gad, Mandy Patinkin, Ashley Greene, Alexander Chaplin, Michael Weston, Donald Faison, Jim Parsons, James Avery, Leslie David Baker

‘Wish I Was Here’ is the story of Aidan Bloom, a struggling actor, father and husband, who at 35 is still trying to find his identity; a purpose for his life. He winds up trying to home school his two children when his father can no longer afford to pay for private education and the only available public school is on its last legs. Through teaching them about life his way, Aidan gradually discovers some of the parts of himself he couldn’t find.

You can tell this is from the same filmmaker from GARDEN STATE only a little older and mature. So we must reflect cinematically on it. A mid-life crisis family film that certainly feels self indulgent and self Centered. Yet presents itself quirky and profound. That as it goes along actually disarms the viewer and itself.

Though it tries to seem like it’s the first film to cover this territory. The film feels a bit out of date. Like it is trying to keep up with some trends that might have been of interest when it was written. That might have come to pass. As the film was a partially kickstarter funded project for the most part. It took awhile to get into production. Inspired by the success of VERONICA MARS’s ability to raise funds by using the website Kickstarter, Zach Braff gave people the opportunity to invest in this movie using the website as well. He was looking to raise $2 million. Depending on the donation, people could get a video diary of the making of the movie, tickets to screenings, and for the highest level of $10,000, a credited part in the movie. The drive started on April 24, 2013 and lasted a month. Over $3 million was raised and 46,520 people contributed.

The film ultimately at times feels like a cinematic self help manual.

The film touches on financial hardships yet never makes them dire and in the end easily manageable. Many of these types of films lack that component usually due to the filmmaker either afraid to big the film down or afraid of crushing the films spirit and message. Here it would crush he whimsical mood and vibe, sort of like the upper middle class struggles of the film THIS IS 40 where their financial troubles are still pretty comfortable. So instantly these films make themselves hard to identify with for some members of the audience. Yet want to be accepted universally.

Zach Braff does have talent, but I wonder if being on a hit television show and more noted because of it. Has affected his view as the film is like a combination of cliches and situations you would find on a television drama typically. Only here dealt with deeper and More graphically.

He does know how to film and write for characters, but it seems not necessarily to dig too deep and peaks more like a hallmark card at times. As it runs into convenience an awful lot.

Here at least Zach Braff doesn’t make himself front and center as much. He is more presenting the characters and himself rather than only being concerned with him and whoever his leading lady is. He lets others shine actually more then he lets himself this time. I am actually happy he is keeping at filmmaking. He has a more assured hand here.

Though it comes off as vainglorious casting himself in lead roles that he would probably never be offered regularly. It offers him a chance to show off his range

There are scenes and moments I like and the cast is surprisingly wholesome and charming who manage to not let the material feel stale or too melodramatic. While adding in subjects such as religion, faith, sexual harassment, home schooling, wayward aimless siblings, dying parents, rebellion, maturity and swear jars. –The film seems to be adding or finding poetic insight in the mundane. Where almost half the lines of dialogue feel overwritten and indulgent.

Anna Kendrick was set to play Janine, but fell out due to scheduling issues and was replaced by her TWILIGHT Saga cohort Ashley Greene. Which is strange as the role is so small.

Alexander Chaplin, Michael Weston, Donald Faison, Zach Braff, Bob Clendenin, and Lesley David Baker are all SCRUBS alumni.

I would like to think of this film as personal and it having an inherent sincerity that in today’s times might be easy to pick apart by more cynical audience members. Here rather in the previous film at least there is a catharsis that is allowed to let the characters be relieved and feel full bodied allowing emotions to penetrate their shells, that have grown stronger over time.

This film might have come along at the right time as the audience who grew up or night have been in the same position when GARDEN STATE. Came out and identified with the film now might be able to see themselves in or identify with this film. Also with the issues, situations and emotions it brings up though this film casts a wider net.

Watching the film I found myself more connected to it. I actually found myself more entertained and impressed by this film then his previous one GARDEN STATE. Which to me only Natalie Portman really kept my interest. Though that’s not exactly fair as me and garden state have a abusive history together. Where I have issues with the film but begrudgingly like it and dislike it at the same time. So it isn’t exactly a guilty pleasure. It’s like a friend you were once so close with who you have a fight with and can never forgive and while you can at times look back at the good times and smile it also

brings back the bad memories.

When I first saw GARDEN STATE I liked it though over time and repeat viewings I realized how trite it was. It’s like looking back on a relationship that you were convinced you were in love, but when you are forced to examine it you realize what a fool you were as what you thought was smart, profound, funny and sweet was hollow. Though you can’t blame the person as they didn’t know any better and hope they thought they meant what they said though not as much thought went into it as you believed and like it or not you can’t erase the memories. It’s like when you are younger and you think you know everything and have it all figured out. Then you get older and like a screenplay in the second act problems and challenges present themselves stronger and harder. As you work your way through and past them you gain knowledge and are embarrassed by past decisions and actions.

Also at this time I can identify with the film, if only for the Father-Son relationship that is explored in the film among other plots and issues touched upon. As I am a sucker for stories that truly explore the dynamics of a father and son relationship as they are rare. especially in an emotional and sensitive manner

I give this film and Zach Braff credit for having a continuous ingenuity, intelligence and independent spirit though he not as deep as he thinks it is. It is a cinematic equivalent of comfort food.

To tell you the truth like GARDEN STATE. I will take some time to make up my mind exactly on this film. While I applaud it’s sincerity. I had problems at times feeling it over saturated

Grade: C+

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