Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff), thirty-something struggling actor, father, and husband, never really made the jump into adulthood. He spends his days auditioning for role after role, even though he hasn’t gotten a part since his role in the oft-mentioned ‘dandruff commercial’ of times past. When Aidan’s father (Mandy Patinkin) reports that his cancer has metastasized and he’s running out of time, Aidan finds himself confronted with the effects that his irresponsibility has on his deteriorating relationships with everyone in his family. As he steps up to try to piece everyone back together, he begins to find purpose in his own life.
“Wish I Was Here”, directed by Zach Braff (“Garden State”), is unique in that it confronts spirituality head-on without picking on any one viewpoint. While Aidan and his brother (Josh Gad) were raised to keep Kosher and attend synagogue, both wholeheartedly reject religion. Aidan’s daughter, Grace (Joey King), on the other hand, embraces the traditional Judaism that Aidan’s father had tried to teach him. While the movie is neither for nor against religion, it doesn’t shy away from talking about spiritual growth in a very open and positive light. Even though it does layer on the sentimentality a bit thick at times, I found that the characters’ experience of spiritual awakening and growth felt, for the most part, very honest and real.
I was also very impressed with the way the movie addressed the role of Sarah Bloom (Kate Hudson), a working mom who supports the whole family with her income and presides as the family matriarch, stepping in to keep everyone from losing control or to nudge them in the right direction. She struggles at work, however, when one of her coworkers begins harassing her with inappropriate language. (He starts talking to her about his penis and adopts the high-pitched voice of his own “mini-boner,” trying to initiate a conversation between her and his nether-regions. Sarah is, of course, horrified and, after warning him to stop, reports his behavior to her boss.) Her boss, unfortunately, tells her that she needs to chill out, get a sense of humor, and stop overreacting (a response that many feminists are familiar with) and reminds her that she is lucky to have a job. Sarah backs down momentarily, but later has the coworker fired when she threatens to press charges. It’s great to have the sexism that women encounter in the workplace brought into discussion openly. A little reminder that feminism’s work isn’t done yet.
All in all, a good summer movie. I’d definitely recommend that you go see it and take advantage of the movie theater’s air conditioning once summer’s sweltering heat sets in!
Wish I Was Here opens in New York and Los Angeles on July 18th and will expand nationwide over the following weeks.
Images courtesy of focusfeatures.com, ropeofsilicon.com, moviefanatic.com, and article.wn.com.