Wish I Was Here

“After Fri night’s first feature, this wasn’t the planned flick to make it a double. I’d raced to the other hallway, ready to walk into The Purge: Anarchy just as trailers were ending. But before I could make it down to the auditorium at the end of the row, I noticed there were multiple employees checking ticket stubs. Presumably, they were trying to catch underage kids sneaking in. Now, I did have a plan in mind in case I ever found myself in such a situation, but didn’t feel up to it. Instead, as I was halted walking down the hall, I looked around and saw that Wish I Was Here was starting in a few minutes in the auditorium right in front of me. I quickly ducked in like that was what I’d intended all along.

Riding on the success of Veronica Mars’ Kickstarter, Zach Braff tried the same thing to finance this follow up to Garden State (follow up career wise, not story wise). I actually did come across it after it was launched, but I decided against pledging. It didn’t feel right. VMars took to crowdfunding as a way to give back to the fans, and verify that yes they would be there to support her. But it was always for the fans. Even the rewards seemed to echo that, giving back as much as they could to make it special for the supporters. Wish gave across different intentions. The main reason for crowd funding was for Braff to maintain his artistic control. The rewards seemed meager. When I approach campaigns, I have arbitrary guidelines in my head, for what I’d be willing to pledge for what rewards. He wasn’t even offering DVDs, which I would normally try to get. The small rewards didn’t offer a lot. I just didn’t like the vibe the campaign gave off, so I passed.

Turns out, the film felt as self serving for Braff as the Kickstarter campaign did. Something about him just kinda rubs me the wrong way. I think part of it is that my brain confuses him with someone else I can’t quite figure out (Zachary Levi is the best I can come up with) and then is let down. This film was a lot of Zach Braff trying to prove he was special. Overacting in small scenes, giving himself dialog that thought it was more profound than it actually was, His character was immature and unlikable in his stubbornness. The whole thing just felt incredibly self serving.

And yet, when I could get past that, I did get swept up in the movie. There were other elements in place. The rest of the cast was pretty strong: Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Joey King, Josh Gad. They all had strong emotional arcs worth watching. Even if some of the details of the storyline felt contrived in order to force an emotional journey. (Srsly, where did the ComiCon thing come from?) The family ties were pretty strong and there were some touching moments and some funny ones. We could have used more Jim Parsons. His bit role was a highlight.

I left there mostly glad for having seen it. I never cared to watch Garden State, so I can’t speak to the criticism I’ve heard that it was a lot of the same. On the way out, I did overhear some girls say they’d been crying because the emotion was intense. But now that a couple days have passed, that seems to have been superficial. What sticks with me is everything that I’d written about Braff. His attitude is what permeated thru the whole thing, and I can’t help but wonder what a different actor could haev done with it.

Wish I Was Here – \m/ \m/ \n

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