'Wish I Was Here' features a great performance by Kate Hudson

'Here' has too many sitcom-ish shenanigans, but the movie is more mature than director, star, and writer Zach Braff's 2004 movie 'Garden State.'

Merie Weismiller Wallace/Focus Features/AP
'Wish I Was Here' stars Zach Braff.

“Wish I Was Here” is the first movie directed by Zach Braff since his indie hit “Garden State” ten years ago. Serving also as the star and as co-writer (with his brother Adam), he has come up with a more mature work this time around – a not altogether difficult feat. Braff plays Aidan Bloom, a struggling actor whose loving wife Sarah (Kate Hudson) supports him and their two children (played by Joey King and Pierce Gagnon) in a boring public service desk job.

When Aidan’s contentious father Gabe (Mandy Patinkin) can no longer pay the children’s yeshiva tuition because of serious illness, Aidan, who disdains Jewish tradition and also public schools, decides to homeschool the kids. He becomes, in effect, a glorified camp counsellor for them. This is meant to seem funny and life-affirming but probably will do nothing for the kids’s SAT scores.

Braff plays Aidan with easygoing exasperation and Hudson is better than I’ve seen her since “Almost Famous.” As a director, Braff touches on lots of Big Themes: mortality, marriage, fatherhood, the disillusion of dreams. Nothing quite comes to full boil, though. Braff undercuts his best intentions with sitcom-ish shenanigans, as if he was afraid of losing the audience by going deeper. I hope he doesn’t wait ten years to again take the plunge. Grade: B (Rated R for language and some sexual content.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to 'Wish I Was Here' features a great performance by Kate Hudson
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today