Zach Braff‘s latest effort “Wish I Was Here,” which he wrote, directed and stars in, makes for an intriguing process story, since much of its funding was secured through Kickstarter. But sadly, that may be the extent of its appeal.
According to most of the critics who have endured it, the movie also starring Kate Hudson, Joey King and Pierce Gagnon doesn’t much compare to the critically adored “Garden State,” Braff’s 2004 directorial debut.
TheWrap’s own Inkoo Kang said the two-hour movie was big on moments, but light on characters. She cautions that it’s a movie for “fans and the true believers.”
“So let them enjoy it,” she adds, “while the rest of us wonder what the hullabaloo is all about.”
She’s not the only one who thinks the movie could’ve dug a little deeper.
“For a film that purports to be about the process of maturity and growth,” says the LA Times’ Mark Olsen, “it is woefully un-evolved, lacking in understanding and insight.
Most critics agree Braff’s heart was in the right place, but unfortunately that’s not always enough. Scott Bowles of USA Today calls “Wish I Was Here” a “heartfelt if heavy-handed sermon about chasing dreams, forgiving sins and honoring Woody Allen.”
Time Out’s Joshua Rothkopf is even less forgiving. And he definitely didn’t approve of the soundtrack.
“Plotwise, the movie is a shameless pileup of clichés,” he said. “Even worse than the film’s preprogrammed structure are Braff’s formulaic instincts as a sequence builder, drenching moments in slo-mo and Bon Iver for instant bathos.”
Stephanie Zacharek of the Village Voice didn’t think the movie was perfect, but she seemingly admired Braff’s ambition. “‘Wish I Was Here’ is at least stretching toward something,” she said. “And even if its reach exceeds its grasp, Braff’s earnest determination as a filmmaker and performer helps smooth out some of the awkward bumps.”
The Miami Herald’s critic was considerably less kind.
“If I were one of the generous and optimistic contributors to Zach Braff’s Kickstarter campaign to fund ‘Wish I Was Here,’ I’d ask for my money back,” said Connie Ogle. “All of it.”
Ty Burr of the Boston Globe was also rubbed the wrong way by a film he called “wasted.”
“Sophomore slumps don’t come any more irritating than ‘Wish I Was Here,’ the painfully sincere, emotionally fraudulent new comedy-drama from actor-writer-director Zach Braff,” he said.
Moira Macdonald of the Seattle Times was one of the film’s lone advocates, but even she didn’t think it was perfect. “[It’s] an uneven, sometimes charming, sometimes amateurish exploration of a particular time in a still-young man’s life,” she said.
But don’t take the critics’ words for it. “Wish I Was Here” hits theaters on July 18 — see it and decide for yourself.