Zach Braff's Wish I Was Here reminds us we should feel free to dream, but remember that reality exists [Review]

By Ariel Conant
By Ariel Conant |

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When we’re little, we’re always told to pursue our dreams. But as adults, people need to adapt their dreams to include those around them and the reality of obstacles.   

This is the theme of Wish I Was Here, Zach Braff’s newest film which was partly funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Braff plays Aidan Bloom, an out-of-work actor. He has two children, Grace (Joey King) and Tucker (Pierce Gagnon), and a hard-working wife (Kate Hudson) who supports the family while Aidan chases his unlikely dream.  

Aidan’s struggle is brought to head when his father Gabe (Mandy Patinkin) is diagnosed with cancer. Gabe had been paying for an expensive school for the children, but now he needs the money for his treatment. Unable to pay for the children’s school fees, Aidan decides to home-school them.

The film has enough light-hearted and silly moments to keep its momentum even while addressing difficult issues.  There is excellent acting all round: Braff is in a role similar to those he’s done before, but he’s familiar with it, and does it well; Hudson and Patinkin play off each other, giving the movie the serious moments it needs to keep it grounded. But it is King who shines, showing the rebellion and uncertainty of adolescence.

The movie’s soundtrack is an unfortunate distraction: the barrage of indie tunes seems forced and out of place, and takes away from the meaningful moments created by good writing and acting.

Ultimately, Wish I Was Here shows a valuable lesson in growing up. It’s not so much that dreams are only for kids, but more that adults also need to also accept that reality exists alongside their dreams.