Wish I Was Here  (2014)    0/100

Rating :   0/100             COMPLETE INCINERATION            106 Min        15

The cloying title matches the substance of this entirely egocentric vanity project from ex Scrubs actor and smug twat Zach Braff, for whom this is his second time directing a feature film after 2004’s ‘Garden State’ although Braff is probably more famous for beating up a twelve year old kid the following year after his mates set him up for Ashton Kutcher’s ‘Punk’d’ and he didn’t exactly take it in the right spirit. Co-writing this with his brother and casting himself in the leading role he plays, wouldn’t you know it, one of two brothers – a struggling actor full of questions as to the meaning of his life as his father (Mandy Patinkin) is diagnosed with terminal illness and his wife (Kate Hudson) operates as the primary bread winner. We read from this then a large degree of autobiography, and when we couple that with the fact Braff funded the film via Kickstarter it’s difficult not to see this as someone asking the public to pay for him to make a film about how hard his life is, and it is equally difficult to sympathise with actor (Scrubs wasn’t exactly a minor success) or character as in the grand scheme of things the family portrayed are far from living on the bread line.

Braff has no children in real life, and this would explain the quite hopeless father figure he presents onscreen – which is partly a failed attempt to generate comedy, but allowing his young son to sleep with a charged power tool under his pillow and being unable to resist snide dope references in front of the kids make it all but impossible to see anything other than the immaturity of the filmmaker at the fore rather than any pretence at drama or storytelling. A fudge to drive events sees one of Hudon’s work colleagues make a few creepy comments to her, personifying his male member, but when she tells her husband later she describes it in such a way that gives the concrete impression he whipped it out and pestered her with it – leading to consequences which effectively destroy the rest of this guy’s life, and the audience are supposed to think this is great and justified. Josh Gad plays the brother and both he and Hudson are punching way, way below their weight here  (in fact the role of the wife is so awful it should really have gone to someone still in drama school) as we are continually bombarded with clichéd garbage and even some CGI sci-fi daydreams, where Braff is the hero, that are shoddy and inflated enough to leave you in desperate want of a paper bag to vomit into – Patinkin as the father is the only thing of any merit at all in the entire film. Sometimes there’s a good reason the studios say no to a project, and this is a prime example of how not to go about making the transition from acting to directing.

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