Wish I Was Here (2014)



Critic Consensus: There's no denying Wish I Was Here is heartfelt, but it covers narrative ground that's already been well trod -- particularly by director Zach Braff's previous features.

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Movie Info

Director Zach Braff's follow-up to his indie breakout hit "Garden State" tells the story of a thirtysomething man who finds himself at major crossroads, which forces him to examine his life, his career, and his family. (c) Focus
R (for language and some sexual content.)
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
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Zach Braff
as Aidan
Kate Hudson
as Sarah
Josh Gad
as Noah
Joey King
as Grace
Pierce Gagnon
as Tucker
Ashley Greene
as Janine
Alexander Chaplin
as Rabbi Rosenberg
Leslie David Baker
as Audition Actor #1
James Avery
as Audition Actor #2
Ato Essandoh
as Audition Actor #3
Allan Rich
as Rabbi Twersky
Bruce Nozick
as Dr. Becker
Donald Faison
as Anthony
Taylor Bagley
as Janine's Friend
Jennifer Terry
as Janine's Other Friend
Jackie Johnson
as Female Supermarket Employee
Bob Clendenin
as Defense Attorney
Silvia Curiel
as Esperanza
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Critic Reviews for Wish I Was Here

All Critics (117) | Top Critics (35)

Wish I Was Here's philosophical scope never gets much bigger than the slip of paper inside a fortune cookie.

Full Review… | July 18, 2014
Top Critic

It is sometimes maudlin, sometimes trivial and sometimes very moving, but never less than achingly sincere.

Full Review… | July 18, 2014
Top Critic

The fruits of writer-director Zach Braff's Kickstarter are here for the general public, and they're at once vibrantly weird, beautiful and thoughtful.

Full Review… | July 18, 2014
Denver Post
Top Critic

Braff plays Aidan with easygoing exasperation and Hudson is better than I've seen her since Almost Famous.

Full Review… | July 18, 2014
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

Wish I Was Here is a funny, touching movie that features one of Kate Hudson's best performances and a curmudgeonly good one from Mandy Patinkin.

Full Review… | July 18, 2014
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

"Wish I Was Here" is a welcome, if belated, second chapter in a filmmaker's career. I just hope we don't have to wait another 10 years to see what he thinks about life as a forty-something ...

Full Review… | July 17, 2014
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Wish I Was Here


Zach Braff's crowd-funded sophomore effort received a lot of flack for its privileged genesis, its grammatically incorrect pseudo-clever title, and its oblique trailer full of indie-pretentious images that drew inevitable comparisons to Braff's polarizing "Garden State." However, I was pleasantly surprised that "Wish I Was Here" is NOT just a continuation of Andrew Largeman's ennui-driven love story. The movie is a realistic and funny treatment of early Millennial adulthood and its responsibilities of unruly kids, libido-less spouses, estranged siblings, and reconnecting with once tyrannical and now dying parents. Aidan Bloom is a dopey suburban dad who has to homeschool his kids after his father defaults on their yeshiva tuition due to exorbitant medical bills. Aidan's brand of guerilla life lesson is random and uplifting but not in a way that insists upon itself. The local color of Los Angeles is quirky and moving with the disparate cultures of "Yom Kippur Jews," audition-circuit actors, and furry cosplayers. Brown Bear Donald Faison also cameos in an irreverent little misunderstanding that blends the cancer motif with the sheitel (wig) motif of Orthodox Judaism. The kid actors are adorable: Joey King is a sweet, bright-eyed innocent, and Pierce Gagnon is as hilariously foulmouthed in this as he was creepy in "Looper." Kate Hudson is nicely glam-glum as the working mom who lost track of her dreams, but her character tips into "long-suffering-wife" territory with no true motivation or credit. When her erstwhile disapproving father-in-law gives her the rare compliment that she has the power to be a great matriarch someday, she counters, "I already am a great matriarch." She should have just stopped there instead of negating her power with, "Well, I'm trying anyway." The reconciliation plot between father and sons is a bit cloying and sentimental, but on the whole, the movie is joyful, especially the end montage of little happinesses experienced in the moment before daughter Grace resurfaces from her first purifying foray into the water. I wouldn't say it's better than "Garden State" as a whole though. Despite the predecessor's reliance on the hipster atmospheric aesthetic, it really WAS the height of the mid-aughts' affected yet affecting quarter-life crisis movie - with its non sequitur humor, indie soundtrack, and tap-dancing Natalie Portman at her most heart-swelling. "Wish I Was Here" is beautifully nostalgic for the present, but it doesn't seem to commit hard enough.

Alice Shen
Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

A family man faces some familial life challenges ... with his family. That seems to be about the gist of the thing, cue the indie music score, cue some shots of sunlight sparkling over the surf. Heartfelt perhaps, but also markedly contrived, a Hallmark card of a film. My one beef with the work: whyzit every time the family is doing family things the Ma (Kate Hudson, effervescent) is never around? Wazzup with that?

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


An indie little movie full of indie clichés and indie songs to fill an indie soundtrack - just what Zach Braff loves -, but the worst is that he doesn't even care to wrap up the loose ends of his silly narrative replete with corny "life lessons" and give it a decent conclusion.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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