WISH I WAS HERE is a film the reunites the majority of Scrubs cast and a healthy TV megastar cast for a story that follows Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff) as he battles with the complexity of reality versus dreams; all while bringing his family back together as it seemingly falls apart.
I’m mixed about this one, because I thought the cast was rounded out really well and the comedy delivered was spot on where it needed to be. It’s the drama side of things where the movie fell short. There’s comedy here and there with Braff playing off his kids (Pierce Gagnon and Joey King) extremely well, but when it comes to hard-hitting moments that try to hold meaning and gravity, they just didn’t “click”. I would attribute that to the fact that the film – overall – retreads very, very familiar ground.
You see, these dramatic moments are so drowned in the building drama that it becomes kind of a chore keeping up with the mega quick stops of comedy which wash away quickly as more drama washes in. The film pushes this idea about god, belief, self-belief via the kids and his dad, Gabe (Mandy Patinkin); all of which follow a form of Judaism; and I’m genuinely curious about what director Zach Braff wanted to frame up with this kind of focus, because the story runs parallel to the main arc and, to me, detracts somewhat significantly when it shows up throughout the film.
That’s not to say the performances are bad. On the contrary, they’re all rather great. But the absolute standout would have to be Josh Gad. His scenes carried far more weight both comically and dramatically than anyone else other than Mandy Patinkin – especially in the third act. I’m absolutely happy to admit that I now have a soft spot towards the guy because his performance – while small – was just great.
It’s a snappy enough script that has solid bits of dialogue and back-and-forth, but the film still feels bloated; like it could have trimmed bits and pieces off to really tighten the picture up. I honestly didn’t mind spending time at all with these characters and I have to admit that the film wraps up nicely – albeit predictably – but the message it carries disappears more into the winds of familiarity.