Wish I Was Here Blu-ray review
Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff, GARDEN STATE) has had high ambitions since he was a kid, when he and his brother would imagine themselves as superheroes rescuing those in need. But as he got older, he realized maybe he was the one in need. Now married and with two children, he’s grown into the sort of man who drives a minivan and gets pestered by his son for the Wi-Fi password.
He loves his family and gets a kick out of his son’s (Pierce Gagnon, LOOPER) ways to abuse the swear jar, but he’s not the actor he wanted to be and can’t land an audition, leaving the pool in the backyard empty and his wife, Sarah (Kate Hudson, CLEAR HISTORY), to be the sole provider. On top of it, his father, Gabe (Mandy Patinkin, Showtime’s HOMELAND), has revealed the reason he can’t pay his son’s tuition: he’s dying. And so Aidan decides that the best solution is to homeschool Tucker and Grace (Joey King, RAMONA AND BEEZUS), even though he doesn’t know the first thing about complimentary angles.
WISH I WAS HERE is Braff’s first directorial feature since 2004’s GARDEN STATE, which won him the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature. Like that movie, WISH I WAS HERE touches on ideas of discovering who you are and making sense of the world around you. Also like that movie, WISH I WAS HERE shows Braff to be the sort of filmmaker who enjoys patting his own back and relying on others to get him through.
Braff is not one for subtlety, which means his characters deliver sophomoric insights into walls and spout lines like “Life is all around you” and “Do you know what the problem with living in a fishbowl is? Everyone can see you.” And when he’s run out of pseudo-intellectual speeches, he utilizies—as he did with GARDEN STATE—a stacked soundtrack (featuring the likes of Hozier, Bon Iver and The Shins) to guide the story and ideas.
Braff and co-writer/brother Adam desperately want to make the Bloom clan interesting by having them act in quirky ways (Tucker can’t stop cursing; Grace sports a hot pink wig). But they’re not, because it’s clear they won’t grow since they’re led by superficial parents who are more shaken up when their daughter shaves her head than when they see Gave in the hospital and a father who pretends his daughter is sick with cancer so he can drive an Aston Martin.
The attempts are desperate; but then, that should be expected since such desperateness is in the root of the movie’s production. Braff, you may remember, set up a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of raising $2 million to simultaneously fund the movie and beg people to remember who he is. This pathetic charade illustrates just why he shouldn’t bother making a third movie in ten more years and why WISH I WAS HERE is a failure: he puts little effort in and hopes others will take care of the rest.
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The high-definition presentation has an overall clean image without any noticeable disturbances.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. The dialogue is clear and the soundtrack (of Hozier, The Shins and more) comes through nicely.
Feature commentary with co-writers/director/producer Zach Braff and co-writer/producer Adam Braff: Braff and Braff offer a fairly decent commentary in which they discuss the story, characters, themes and more of WISH I WAS HERE.
Feature commentary with co-writer/director/producer Zach Braff, director of photography Lawrence Sher and editor Myron Kerstein: This track goes into the technical aspects a bit more and serves as a nice companion to the other commentary.
Deleted Scenes (25:40): There are 13 here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “The Graffiti Wall 1,” “The Graffiti Wall 2,” “The Graffiti Wall 3,” “Aidan Wants Sarah,” “Fort and Dolls,” “Rabbi Rosenberg Talk and the Ice Forest,” “Noah Makes His Costume,” “Aidan Talks to Sarah About Teaching,” “Aidan and Kids Call the Car Dealership,” “Noah and Aidan Talk at the Beach,” “Grace Needs a Burqini,” “Jesse’s Party” and “Jerry Gets Fired – Alternate.” Available with optional commentary with Braff, Sher and Kerstein.
Directing While Acting (8:40) shows Braff trying to direct while he’s in front of the camera.
Aston Martin Dealership Outtakes (3:15)