Perfectly placed comic timing is the cornerstone of Wish I Was Here, the Kickstarter-funded comedic drama co-written by brothers Zach and Adam Braff, the latter who happens to call Hawai‘i home. Like Zach’s 2004 breakout hit Garden State, hailed by twenty-somethings in the decade that followed, Wish I Was Here moves through some of life’s hardest and most uncomfortable topics. The complexities of parenting, the struggles of marriage, the inability to find life’s purpose, and the heartache of a dying parent are contrasted with scenes that are awkward and hilarious (albeit childish at times) and may have just happened to you, or you will be glad haven’t (being caught taking a toke from a joint at your kid’s school; witnessing an estranged, genius brother humping a gigantic “furry”; getting sexually harassed by a coworker’s talking “half-boner”).
Loosely based on Adam’s life as a struggling screenwriter with a full-time-working wife who supports the family, the film follows Aidan Bloom (played by Zach), a down-on-his-luck bit actor who daydreams of life as a sci-fi hero to escape the realities of marriage, fatherhood, and responsibility in general. While Zach brings as much whining likeability to his role as Bloom as he did as Garden State’s Andrew Largeman, it’s the curious cast of characters who surround him that provide the film’s most memorable moments. One of those, perhaps the most unforgettable, occurs between Bloom’s wife, Sarah (played by Kate Hudson, known mostly for her bubbly if not slightly annoying rom-com roles) and his pitiless father (played artfully by Mandy Patinkin), who lies dying in his hospitable bed. “Nothing in life will call upon us to be more courageous than facing the fact that it ends, but on the other side of heartbreak is wisdom,” a resolute Sarah reminds her father-in-law, words he once spoke himself.
The film is what it is largely because of the 46,520 backers from Kickstarter, the crowd-funding platform that enables the general public to fund projects it would like to see come to market; they contributed more than $3 million of the film’s $5 million budget. And they got what they wanted: a must-see film that audiences from ages twenty to fifty and beyond will relate to. Ultimately, Wish I Was Here is a timeless classic reminding movie-goers that while life is rife with uncontrollable, unfortunate circumstances, it’s also an occasion—one that we should rise to.
Wish I Was Here releases nationwide today. Check your local listings for movie showtimes.