Most people probably remember Zach Braff from his long tenure on the now-defunct NBC sitcom Scrubs. Almost as many recollect his 2004 directorial debut, Garden State. (And no one thinks about 2006's The Last Kiss, which Braff starred in and did uncredited rewrites on.) At present, though, people may best recognize Braff for the swelling kerfuffle over his decision to fund his latest effort, Wish I Was Here, through crowdfunding platform Kickstarter; it's a case of contextual brouhaha overtaking actual discussion of the film itself.
A first glimpse of the movie via last month's teaser trailer changed that somewhat; now, with the release of Wish I Was Here's full trailer, seen above, we may finally get around to talking about what Braff has up his sleeve and whether or not it'll be worth watching. If anything, Wish I Was Here - with its emphasis on directionless characters and strained familial relationships - looks an awful lot like a Zach Braff story, which is to say that he's not exactly shuffling outside of his comfort zone with this project. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, if he manages to hit the right emotional sweet spots.
Wish I Was Here deals with professional and personal discontentment, as Aidan Bloom (Braff) - struggling actor, father, husband, son, and brother - tries to balance out every facet of his life in the pursuit of happiness. Of course, his quest doesn't matter, a message that's bluntly delivered by his Rabbi, but that's not going to stop Aidan: whether by test-driving an Aston Martin (with Braff's ex-Scrubs cohort and real life pal Donald Faison in the passenger seat), or by buying his daughter, Grace (Fargo's Joey King), a wig to cover her shaved head, Aidan's out to make the best of being alive.
Like Garden State, Wish I Was Here is packed to the gunwales with attempts at human insight and coy jokes about the protagonist's existential crisis. (See: the "This pamphlet will save your life" gag.) Listening to the one-liners and murmurings uttered by the cast - which includes Braff, Kate Hudson, Homeland's Mandy Patinkin, Frozen's Josh Gad, King, and Looper's Trevor Gagnon - definitely invokes the sort of whimsy, charm, and melancholy of Garden State; it could be that Wish I Was Here winds up being a companion piece to that film.
If you weren't on-board for Garden State, though, it's likely that Wish I Was Here isn't going to be your cup of tea. And maybe public vitriol toward Braff will create even more backlash against the movie once it hits theaters this summer. Until then, though, enjoy this briskly cut (if overlong) look into Braff's forthcoming slice of introspection.
Wish I Was Here hits theaters on July 18th, 2014.