Wish I Was Here, like the poster suggests, is an occasion. Not a particularly good occasion, but an occasion. The film follows the story of Aiden Bloom (Zach Braff), a 35 year old struggling actor who's still unsure of what to do with his life. After his dad (Mandy Patinkin) announces the return of his cancer, Aiden's life becomes an even larger mess. He is forced to take his two kids, Tucker (Pierce Gagnon) and Grace (Joey King) out of private school and into home school, resulting in one of the most eventful uneventful movies this year.
Wish I Was Here is a very sincere, sweet and touching movie. The film, although heavily flawed, is a very heart warming drama/comedy with a very likeable family-based storyline. A large portion of the film is taken up with moments of family bonding or banter or, in some cases, drama. The film took on a surprisingly heavy story about life, death and religion. We've seen the primary plots of the film before, but it's nearly always something I find enjoyment in. The film is predictable, yes. The film is choppy, yes. But the film has a large amount of charm to it, something absent in a lot of movies that fall under this genre.
I found the film's humour to be half-half. There are a handful of jokes that worked really well, getting plenty of laughs out of me, then there was a lot of jokes that just happened. They were just there. They were inescapable and completely uninspired. That being said, it wasn't so much the humour that put a smile on my face, but more so the situations. It's the film's charm that's able to boastfully force your lips to curve. Zach Braff's disappointingly average direction isn't able to handle the more poignant scenes with much empathy, but he does manage to write characters that feel real. That is this film's biggest achievement.
The film's choice to insert multiple dream sequences bewilders me. Throughout the film we are constantly cutting to moments inside the characters' heads. While this worked to a great extent in the opening scene, as aided by a meaningful (and one-off) voiceover, the film kept coming back to these dreams. Once was fine. I had absolutely no problems with that first scene. It's when we get it for the second, third, fourth and fifth time that it begun to get on my nerves. After the opening it plays no real importance, therefore lowering the overall standards of the film.
To sum up, Wish I Was Here may be predictable, choppy, averagely directed and only has a handful of humour that works, but it's also a very sincere, sweet, charming, touching, well acted and enjoyable family-based drama/comedy.