For a film that cost only $6 million dollars to create, controversy swirled around Wish I Was Here. Zach Braff’s big screen directorial follow-up to Garden State enraged some fans when Braff took to Kickstarter to find funding for the film. Fans were annoyed that not only was Braff not doing a long-awaited sequel to Garden State, but the multi-millionaire wanted the fans to pay for his new film venture. I could care less who financed Wish I Was Here. All I care about is whether the film entertains and makes me feel something. Wish I Was Here does that in simplistic fashion with a family that is full of issues.

Wish I Was Here showcases Zach Braff as an actor, writer and director. Braff’s acting style comes off cheesy to some, but I always thought Braff was just playing up the neurosis just as Woody Allen and Albert Brooks did before him. Braff plays Aidan Bloom, a wannabe actor who is forced to reconcile his differences with his entire family when a crisis occurs. Aidan is tough character to get behind because the guy is a loser who’s putting his acting dream in front of his family. Slowly through the film you begin to root for Aiden after you meet his father played by the scene stealing, Mandy Patinkin.

Maddy Patinkin gives a strong performance in Wish I Was Here as Aidan’s stern father, Gabe. Patinkin’s performance is as real as it gets as a man who had no idea how to be a loving father. At times, you hate Gabe with his relentless negative comments to the people in his life. The guy just can’t seem to be positive or let his kids know how he truly feels about them. Patinkin even managed to make the overrated Kate Hudson look like a top-notch actress when the two shared some strong screen time together. It’s one of the best roles of Patinkin’s career.

Besides the presence of Patinkin, there are other touching performances in Wish I Was Here, including Joey King as Aidan’s daughter, Grace. Grace is doing some major soul-searching for a kid in middle school and you pity her character at times. Josh Gad shows up as well as Aidan’s estranged brother, Noah. Don’t expect Gad’s performance to be sweet and full of laughs. Noah is a guy with major issues stemming back to the expectations set on him by his father. Still the core of Wish I Was Here was the relationship of Patinkin’s Gabe with the rest of his family during a time of heartache. Patinkin makes everyone better around him and allows Braff to look good in all the hats he wore while working on Wish I Was Here. Sometimes a simple story about true life is a better movie experience than a movie with trucks that turn into robots.

Overall, I give Wish I Was Here was 3 out of 4 stars.

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