Thursday, July 24, 2014
Was The Expectation Set Too High?
Certainly my anticipation of Zach Braff's new movie Wish I Was Here, was vastly different than that for Transcendence, however, once again, it's a movie that came so close to something great, but fell away from its potential. Or was it that the expectation was set too high due to the crowd funding controversy, festival buzz, and of course the comparison to his first film Garden State, which most agree is a good, off beat bit of filmmaking, with one of the best soundtracks ever!
Wish I Was Here gets off to a good start with the introduction of this family of four - Aidan Bloom (Braff) his children - pious Grace (Joey King) drill loving son Tucker (Pierce Gagnon - T&T Looper post) and wife too hot for him Sarah (Kate Hudson), all at the breakfast table discussing swearing and the bulging swear jar.
|Zach Braff with on screen wife Kate Hudson|
The children attend a private, Hebrew school, paid for by Aidan's father, Gabe (Mandy Patinkin), neither Aidan or Sarah are very religious, but since the choice of school is important to Gabe and he's been handling the tuition, than why not. The problem being, Gabe has missed the last payment, and Yahweh knows, a Jewish private school has little tolerance for non-payment. Sarah has a low level admin job at the Water Plant, forced to sit too close to an inappropriate office mate. Aidan after more than 20 years of trying to make it as an actor, is still lucky to land an occasional mouthwash commercial. So paying the tuition themselves is out. Temporary solution to the schooling dilemma - Aidan begins to home school the kids, something he's not qualified for in the least. Eventually, taking the kids on a day trip to the desert, a joy ride at a luxury car dealer, (giving a small role to Braff's best friend and Scrubs co-star, Donald Faison) and other assorted bonding experiences.
Similar to Garden State, much of the movie deals with death, but instead of Braff's character reacting to the recent death of his mother, it's the impending death of his father, as Gabe's cancer has returned. A quick review of Zach Braff's Wiki bio seems to indicate that both his actual parents are still living, so perhaps he feels by delving into their deaths in movies, it'll better prepare him for the eventual loss?
#WishIWasHere, co-written by Zach's brother Adam J. Braff, is a slice of life movie that's aimed at taking in every day moments, not unlike Linklater's Boyhood (stay tuned for post) with a side theme of we're parents, but does that mean we're supposed to know what to do? And, my brother and I didn't grow up to be what we imagined as children playing heroes, now what?
All of these themes are great to explore in an Indie-ish/dram-edy, and it is an enjoyable movie, the issue being it's overly earnest and heavy handed in its sentimentality. For instance, when Grace cuts off all her hair and Aidan takes his daughter to get a wig, he says, "You can pick out any wig in the store as long as it's as unique and amazing as you". It would be so much better if you saw them in the store looking at a wall of traditional wigs, and then the next scene you see Grace in the fuchsia choice.
That being said, I feel this reviewer went way too far in his harsh criticism:
When future generations sort through the rubble of our pop culture, what will they remember about Zach Braff? Will it be his avuncular, self-aware performance on the clever, inventive network sitcom "Scrubs"? Or perhaps the impressive feat of writing, directing, and starring in 2004's endearing "Garden State" before his 30th birthday? One hopes those accomplishments will stand the test of time, because if not, Braff will likely be known as the guy who took over $3.1 million in Kickstarter donations to help fund a painfully bad movie. READ MORE- Marc Mohan The Oregonian
When a filmmaker is prolific, like a Steven Soderbergh before his "retirement", we tend to allow each movie to stand on its own merit; but when the filmmaker does one movie and then waits 10 years to do another, it's impossible not to compare it to the first offering. Thus, I suppose Wish I Was Here was going to have to be truly, truly brilliant to keep people from saying - it's no Garden State.
T &T's LAMB Score: 3 outta 5
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