Wish I Was Here - Blu-ray Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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Wish I Was Here - Blu-ray Review

Title: Wish I Was Here


HTS Overall Score:72

I’m a fan of Zach Braff and have been ever since his beginnings to fame in the hit comedy show “Scrubs”. “Garden State” was his breakout role as creative director and showed some incredible promise as it was partially created from some of his own life experiences. Admittedly, he’s a bit of a strange bird to work with in a professional sense, by all accounts, but he’s got a brilliant mind and an INCREDIBLE amount of passion for whatever he dives in to. Some people lashed out at him for his use of crowd funding for “Wish I Was Here”, but Zach stuck to his guns, proclaiming that this would never see the light of day with typical Hollywood measures. After seeing the movie I can understand his fears, as it is most certainly an atypical movie for the standard big wigs to greenlight. The movie is quirky, it’s funny, and it’s got a lot of passion, but unfortunately left me wanting more.

Similarly to “Garden State”, “Wish I Was Here” is about a man in his mid-thirties who has a crisis of sorts rumple up his day to day goings on. Aiden Bloom (Zach Braff) is a struggling actor, trying to make ends meet while his wife, Sarah (Kate Hudson), is bringing home the bacon for them and their two children, Grace (Joey King) and Tucker (Pierce Gagnon) while he’s hoping to land a role of importance. To make matters worse, Aiden finds out that his Father, Gabe (Mandy Patinkin) has gone critical with cancer and that he has to pull his children out of private school for lack of funds. While Aiden is dealing with this whole jumbled mess, Grace is dealing with the pitfalls of being a young teenage girl and having to try to come to grips with the same issue of death that the rest of the family is struggling with. The movie chronicles the family as they grieve, as they find out what makes them strong, and learn to overcome their fears of the future together, and individuals.

The premise of the story is exceptional, and you can REALLY see that Zach put his heart and soul in to the picture. Honestly I can’t see him NOT putting his heart and soul into his projects, as this was very obviously a passion project for him from the get go. The problem is that there are soooooooooooooo many subplots, and sub “issues” that Aiden, Gabe, Grace, Sarah, and even Tucker have to deal with that except for the issues with Aiden and his father, the rest aren’t given enough time to be fully fleshed out. You feel as if they are barely scratching the surface with all these important issues and there is this feeling of being left wanting more. This movie honestly could have been a 3 hour movie and not completed all of the story arcs properly, as there was PLENTY of meaty topics introduced.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Gabe and Aiden as Mandy Patinkin has really become a favorite of mine over the years (even when he’s not wielding a sword against the dread pirate Roberts) and his soft spoken manner translates well to a dying man on screen. Kate Hudson was really my only weak point in terms of acting, as I feel her role as a mother came off a bit strained and weird. The crying scene when Grace chops off all her hair really came across a bit forced and unnatural compared to the meshing of the other actors. For some reason I kept looking back at little Tucker, saying to myself “I’ve seen him before, I just can’t place it”, and it took me till the last 20 minutes before I remembered that he was that creepy little kid in “Looper”. I couldn’t place why I was getting a little weirded out by him until I saw his face in my mind’s eye telekinetically throwing Bruce Willis across a corn field.

The movie is certainly heartwarming and the little relationships that are wound among the characters is the best part of the whole movie. There's even a few cool little cameos, one by Jim Parson's of "Big Bang Theory". Unfortunately the lack of depth to the rest of the sub plots and sub issues, besides Gabe’s death, left you wanting a lot more and left me feeling indifferent to most of the movie. It’s not that I found it a bad movie, as I really enjoyed much of the nuances, but it left me feeling rather non-committal about the whole thing, stuck in that weird limbo state where you don’t like a movie, but you can’t dislike it either.


Rated R for language and some sexual content

“Wish I Was Here” sports a very nice 2.40:1 AVC encoded transfer with plenty of color saturation and pop to the picture. Many times I hovers right on the edge of a 4.5/5 experience as fine detail can be magnificent, especially in close up sequences or the focus on the fantastic little wig that Grace wears throughout the movie. Colors are bright and full of pizazz, saturated rather heavily, but still managing to look natural. Black levels show a few small issues with crush and the occasional area that looks a bit washed out in low level light scenes, but overall don’t disappoint. The L.A. Scenery is simply gorgeous to look at, especially the beach where Noah resides, and the lavish fantasy land sequences. The disc itself is flawless, as I could see no instances of compression artifacts or digital manipulation, but sometimes the image was marred by some inherent softness with the filming technique. I almost wanted to give a 4.5, but that softness along with the black level issues pulled it down JUST enough to rate a solid 4/5.

As with most films that are geared towards the drama, we get a very front heavy track that does everything it can right, but is limited in scope by leaving the surrounds pretty much out of the picture. The dialogue is crisp and clean, with no distortion or dynamic range issues to deal with, instead giving very fluid, very clean front channel separation among the three mains. There is some decent LFE usage throughout the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track, filling out the bottom end with subtlety and enough oomph when called upon. Surrounds, however, are severely lacking as most of the channel usage is up there in the front speakers and the LFE channel. Some ambient noises come through, especially street noises, but those rear channels end up mainly being silent. A good track, with some excellent clarity, with its only limitation being the inherent sound design of the movie. Solid A


• Deleted Scenes with Optional Filmmaker's commentary
• Directing while acting
• Aston Martin Dealership outtakes
• Audio Commentaries


“Wish I Was Here” is both intriguing and ultimately disappointing, not because the movie is awful, but because there is so much potential that is wasted under the surface. The relationships between the family members is exquisitely poised to take off, and besides the issue with Aiden’s dying father, they are left unrealized on the cutting room floor. I have a lot of respect for Zach Braff, especially with his previous workings in “Garden State”, but the proof is in the pudding they say, and this pudding feels like a few ingredients got left on the counter. Audio and video are very solid, and fans of Zach Braff’s “Garden State” will want to give this a viewing, but I’d recommend a rental for the casual fan.

Additional Information:

Starring: Zach Braff, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Joey King, Mandy Patinkin
Directed By: Zach Braff
Written By: Zach Braff, Adam Braff
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Studio: Universal
Rated: R
Runtime: 107 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 28th 2014

Buy Wish I Was Here Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Rental

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