During the last decade, Scrubs became something of a TV phenomenon. The adventures of JD (Zach Braff) and Turk (Donald Faison) had a large following rapt to Channel 4 and their associated channels. It turned into a kind of a post work ritual in the house I was living in at the time. During the height of the programmes success, Braff directed and starred in the brilliant Garden State. It looked certain that he would go on to have a successful career both in front, and behind, the camera. However, attempts to cast him in romantic films as a lead actor have almost all flopped. He steps back behind the camera for his second feature film, Wish I Was Here.
Adrian Bloom (Braff) is a struggling actor and father living in LA. His wife (Kate Hudson) supports him both financially and emotionally, whilst his children, Tucker (Pierce Gagnon) and Grace (Joey King), attend an orthodox Jewish school. The latter is at the behest of his religious father Gabe (Mandy Patinkin), who funds their education. Adrian’s brother Noah (Josh Gad) lives like a hermit in his trailer, not participating in real life. When Gabe announces that his cancer has returned and needs to use all his money for the treatment, it throws all the Bloom’s lives into disarray.
Whilst Wish I Was Here has some really great moments, and is enjoyable to watch, unfortunately it doesn’t quite work. Braff is clearly talented and bursting with ideas, but Wish I Was Here is nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is. All too often, scenes feel recycled from Garden State and his acting ability isn’t quite up to pulling it off. However, It does contain magical moments, intelligent humour and certain scenes are genuinely moving. There’s certainly more to come from the former Scrubs star, but he may be better concentrating on working behind the camera.
Wish I Was Here is released on DVD by Koch Media on January 26.