Zach Braff's debut feature film, the quirky indie flick Garden State, saw the Scrubs star explore life as a disconnected 20-something. Thanks to a well-documented Kickstarter fundraising campaign, a decade later Braff is back talking to the same audience, this time as a mid-30s father of two struggling to deal with the realities of life.
Wish I Was Here is a warm, intimate and dry comedy-drama about struggling actor Aidan's (Braff) pre-midlife crisis. His finances, marriage and family start to unravel when his father, Gabe (Patinkin), announces he's dying of cancer and can no longer pay for his grandchildren's private Jewish school.
His wife (Hudson), who as the breadwinner is tiring of supporting her husband's acting dreams, suggests he home-schools the two children. It would be a stretch to say what comes next is "schooling", but a renewed relationship with his kids helps Aidan deal with his father's demise and glue his offbeat family together again.
There's a lot of subject matter to get through, and though Braff's script is littered with sharp and amusing one-liners the material isn't entirely new. Though it goes on a bit, it does mean there's a good chance you'll relate to something, whether it's character dilemmas, sentimentally, or the irreverent sense of humour.
It's the casting where Braff got things really right. Hudson and Patinkin give perfect performances.
On the other hand, Braff's Aidan is an abrasive character to connect with - initially whining, selfish and unappreciative. No doubt in Braff's eyes it makes Aidan's redemption that much more affecting. And, to be fair, it is.
Cast: Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin
Director: Zach Braff
Running time: 106 mins
Rating: M (sex scenes and offensive language)
Verdict: More of the same from film-maker Zach Braff.