Movie review: In ‘Wish I Was Here,’ Braff mixes high drama and low comedy

First Published      Last Updated Jul 24 2014 03:43 pm

Director/star Zach Braff shows in the famously crowd-funded comedy-drama "Wish I Was Here" that he's equally appealing and infuriating on both sides of the camera.

Braff stars as Aiden Bloom, a 35-year-old Los Angeleno whose dream of being a successful actor could be hitting its sell-by date. His patient wife, Sarah (Kate Hudson), is supporting the family with a dead-end job at the water department; his father, Gabe (Mandy Patinkin), is paying to send their kids, Grace (Joey King) and Ticker (Pierce Gagnon), to yeshiva school.

But when Gabe announces he needs the tuition money to pay for last-ditch cancer treatments, Aiden decides to home-school the kids — leading to life lessons for all the family, including his reclusive brother, Noah (Josh Gad).

The script, written by Braff and his brother Adam, manages to intercut moments of touching drama with scenes of questionable comic taste (copulating cosplayers, anyone?) in ways so jarring they throw the movie out of balance.

But Braff, following his love-it-or-hate-it directing debut "Garden State," draws together a solid cast to make good delivering the movie's many small epiphanies.

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‘Wish I Was Here’

Opens Friday, July 25,at area theaters; rated R for language and some sexual content; 106 minutes.