2014 / Director. Zach Braff.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
WISH I WAS HERE is Zach Braff's long awaited follow up to his 2004 cult hit GARDEN STATE and it is definitely a spiritual sequel, although not an actual continuation. A decade has past and Braff returns to his director's chair with this equally offbeat and earnest story of a 30-something year old father whose life didn't turn out as he had imagined and he is faced with a series of confronting and terrifying crossroads. Again he plays a struggling actor with no foreseeable break in sight. His wife brings in all of the family's income and when he learns that his father is dying (taking away ongoing financial support) he is forced to reevaluate his life and choose between chasing his dreams or stepping up to his responsibilities. WISH I WAS HERE is a great little indie film and from just one viewing I can confidently say that I enjoyed it just as much as GARDEN STATE. Part of me wishes that Braff had written this character to be the same protagonist because he shares all of the same characteristics and attitudes. It would have been nice to see where he'd come to in life. Nevertheless this film boasts all of the same dynamics with a very similar narrative... and it packs a real punch. There is a much stronger emotional core with this film and it is handled respectably without ever being too kitsch. Braff is excellent and demonstrates a real level of maturity in both his filmmaking and onscreen presence. He is given wonderful support from Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Joey King, little Pierce Gagnon and Josh Gad. Jim Parsons even returns in a similar role and is a fun addition to the cast. The soundtrack is also a spiritual extension to GARDEN STATE and showcases some great indie tunes. These days a lot of films turn to Bon Iver to elevate their emotional impact and if Bon Iver hadn't already been saturated in recent films then it would have been an even more powerful motivator... unfortunately the song Holocene has been flogged to death and is beginning to lose its punch. But it is still used effectively regardless and one of his newest songs, Heavenly Father, is given its feature film debut (I think) which is also a nice touch. GARDEN STATE earned itself a strong cult following over the past ten years and while WISH I WAS HERE is an equal in my eyes, I can't see it having the same longevity... which is unfortunate. This is a solid and emotionally driven film that works on most levels.