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With Jim Sabatini

Wish I Was Here

Wish I Was Here
Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin, Donald Faison, Josh Gad, Ashley Greene, Joey King and Jim Parsons

Rated: R for language and some sexual content.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date:  July 25, 2014 Released by: Focus Features

It's been a decade since Zach Braff's indie break-out hit Garden State and he doesn't follow it up with nearly an equal tale of amusingly poignant self-discovery and romance. He doesn't work with the same kind of efficiency that Kristen Bell and her filmmakers used in revamping cult fave Veronica Mars not so long ago where the material and execution probably seemed more suited to the small-screen or a pilot for a new sitcom.

Wish I Was Here also stars Kate Hudson and Mandy Patinkin, among a few others in addition to the writer/director/producer flailing away at broad comedy, fantasy and melodrama. Another of a 'Kickstarter' fundraising isn't about Braff's Andrew Largeman as in the earlier feature co-starring Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard, but struggling actor/dad Aidan Bloom.

The family's breadwinner is Aidan's missus Sarah (Hudson, who's actually as good as she's been in a while probably since the adaptation of The Killer Inside Me). Patriarchal Jewish orthodox granddad Gabe (Patinkin, in the film's most heartfelt turn) covers the posh school attended by the kids, Grace (Joey King) and Tucker (Pierce Gagnon).

This unsuccessful off-center hodgepodge also has moments for Aidan Akin to what Ben Stiller was going through in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty except hardly less involving and not figuring much into what little narrative drive there is. Of course, something drastic opens up a kind of familial bonding to try and build emotional consequence and open up some lachrymose ducts, but Wish I Was Here has a cinematic home-schooling about it that doesn't bristle amidst the conventionally ripe and foibles.

Perhaps the busy Josh Gad (Frozen, Love and Other Drugs) is a kind of diversion or comic-relief as the slovenly sibling Noah but the wavering between his 'wisdom' and mental health just goes to show how much Braff's decade absence behind the camera isn't something even less discerning on-lookers wish they were watching now, but back in his Scrubs days.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Wish I Was Here  D      C+                     C- 

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