Pierce Gagnon (left), writer/director Zach Braff and Joey King appear in the completely undisciplined Wish I Was Here.
WISH I WAS HERE (Zach Braff). 106 minutes. Opens Friday (July 18). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
Wish I Was Here feels like the pandering calling card of a rookie writer/director who shows off all his evident style and talent by throwing everything he's got at the screen.
But this is a Zach Braff movie, and he already showcased his cloying humour and appetite for pretty (and pretty meaningless) images in 2004's Garden State. In the decade since, his filmmaking hasn't matured.
He stars as Aidan, a mid-30s L.A. dad who relies on his steadily employed wife (Kate Hudson) to support the family while he pursues his childlike dreams of being an actor. Because Braff just writes everything he can into the movie, Aidan's life has more complications than can be covered in these few paragraphs. Cancer, Judaism, home schooling and Comic Con play big roles in his journey to adulthood.
Garden State fans may dig this sort of thing. Everyone else will likely feel suffocated by the constant barrage of fake wit/strained humour, syrupy sentimentality and fortune-cookie philosophy.
None of this builds toward a convincing resolution, but Braff switches to self-satisfied montage mode, cued to the hip soundtrack selection of his choice, just to pretend that it does.