Friday, July 18, 2014

Wish I Was Here

Sure, Zach Braff is best known as that affable young doctor J.D. on 'Scrubs', but film buffs fondly remember him from his directorial debut 'Garden State', which he also wrote and starred in.  It spoke to a generation, featured very affecting performances by Braff, Natalie Portman, and Peter Sarsgard, and had one of the best soundtracks of the new millennium.  Needless to say, many of us were waiting for his sophomore follow-up.  And we waited a decade.  Though this one made headlines before we even knew what it was about, as Braff funded it via Kickstarter (amidst a lot of bad press questioning whether a rich celebrity should be funding his films through donations from his fans.)  Regardless of how you or I feel about how he got the money, he got the money and therefore had complete creative control over this project.  That can be a great thing in the right hands, but sometimes it isn't.  There are many things right with this film including the cast:  Braff (who I think is a really fine actor), Mandy Patinkin (who I think is an amazing actor), and Kate Hudson (who I'm generally not fond of, but she can be quite good in dramatic parts, as she showed us in 'Almost Famous'.)  This family drama certainly comes across as very personal to Braff, and that can either draw you in or keep you feeling distant, depending on whether you can connect to his Jewish upbringing, his rebellion from his father, and his current day struggles with his family and his career.  Personally, I felt a bit distant to it, and didn't connect as strongly as I would have liked.  It's good, but it's not nearly as good as 'Garden State'.  It's too long.  The soundtrack isn't as remarkable as I expected.  And it's just too small for the big screen.  This one should have premiered on VOD.

Grade: B-

Who is this movie for?  Braff fans should see it, but wait until it's available to watch at home.

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