When Zach Braff first announced his Kickstarter campaign to fund his new film, Wish I Was Here, I think I donated within the first hour or two. I’m a big fan of Scrubs, and Garden State is one of my favorite movies. It was a no brainer to be a part of this campaign and movie.
After a year of excitement building up with the help of emails and updates from the set, Ali and I drove up to Austin Monday night for the Austin screening. We got there about an hour early, but the line was already over 2 blocks long, and it ended up going at least another two blocks past us.
Filing into the theater it was really cool to be surrounded by a like-minded group of people who came together to help make this one thing. While people were settling in they were playing music from the soundtrack, giving us a little taste before the movie started.
Around 7pm Zach came out to intro the movie, and introduced a special guest, his co-star from Scrubs, Donald Faison. On Scrubs their characters, Turk and J.D. were best friends. As huge of a fan of Scrubs that I am, it’s awesome to see that they are best friends in real life, too.
As I said I am a big fan of Zach’s first movie, Garden State. It came out while I was in college, having left the titular Garden State and living in Connecticut during the school year. The movie centered around trying to find yourself and your place in the world, and it came at a time when I was trying to figure that crap out too. Hell, I’m still working on that in some ways.
Wish I Was Here dealt with a similar theme, but later in life. In the movie Zach’s character Aidan is married to Sarah (Kate Hudson) and pursuing his dream of acting. Sarah works a dead end job to support the family, while raising two kids. Aidan’s father, Gabe (Mandy Patinkin) tells him that his cancer has returned, and this time it’s terminal. So on top of Aidan being lost in his life and career he has to deal with his father’s death that is creeping up (the mother died a few years previously).
The cast was amazing. Joey King, the 15 year old who played Grace, Aidan’s daughter, had two amazing scenes. This kid has serious chops. She was real, believable and delivered some really heavy dialogue for someone twice her age, and one of the scenes was her talking on the phone. She had no one to play off of in the scene, it was all her.
Kate Hudson, who I initially feared may feel like a background character, delivered what is probably the best scene in the movie in the hospital when she was talking to her father-in-law.
Mandy Patinkin was Mandy Patinkin. Not surprising at all. Pierce Gagnon, the 8 year old who played Aidan’s son Tucker, was really funny. He probably had some of the best lines in the movie.
I don’t want to give too much away about the movie, but it really was great. It captured a lot of what I loved about Scrubs. It was incredibly funny (a lot jokier than Garden State) but also painfully sad. One minute you were laughing, the next you were crying.
It’s funny watching this movie where I am at this point in my life. Ali and I joke about having to act like grown ups now as we are saving for our house. No more frivolous spending, going out to eat, just being good.
In the movie, Aidan re-discovered, or really discovered that he needed to grow up and take more responsibility with his kids, and taking care of his sick father, trying to hold his family together. Seeing Aidan’s journey with his kids was very cool to watch. At the beginning of the movie he seemed to be an authority figure in protest, but in a lot of ways he was like the third child.
Ali and I don’t have kids, nor do we plan to, but we have an amazing niece and four equally amazing nephews, and whether we always remember it (or realize) or not, we are helping shape who these little people are, and who they will grow up to become. That’s terrifying and exciting at the same time. Watching that same realization play out on screen was very comforting.
Zach, who wrote the movie with his brother Adam, has definitely grown as a writer and as a filmmaker since Garden State. That was very clear from the first scene of Wish I Was Here. The storytelling was much more mature, every character in the movie grew and achieved something.
Wish I Was Here was really amazing, better than I had hoped for.
After the movie they hosted a Q&A from the audience, and then to the delight of the fans Zach and Donald performed “Guy Love” from the Scrubs musical.
Here’s the video:
Wish I Was Here opens in limited cities on July 18th, and a wider release on August 1st.