Zach Braff starred as JD, the likeable Doctor in popular American sitcom ‘Scrubs’. Although the show went on too long, and perhaps outstayed its welcome, Braff didn’t want to be stuck in TV land and wanted to make movies (this was just before Hollywood actors decided they didn’t want to be in movies anymore and got back into TV shows). He wrote and directed ‘Garden State’ and also starred in the film, essentially playing himself. World weary, looking for love, fogged down by Anti-D’s. ‘Garden State’ is marmite for many. Some loved the cuteness, that oft-quoted line about The Shins; others saw it as a pretentious bag of shite. Me, I kinda like Braff, he brings a sense of neurotic vulnerability to the screen, evidently influenced by Woody Allen and not too dissimilar to the likes of Michael Cera and more recently Jesse Eisenberg.
‘Garden State’ was ten years ago, and since then Braff hasn’t been on many people’s radar. That was until he announced a few years ago that he would be making a plea to his fans for financial support on Kickstarter. The millionaire actor asked for two million dollars. Worldview Entertainment added several more million to the budget. I suppose the question people must have asked themselves before donating money to the Kickstarter campaign is this – do I want to see another Zach Braff film? Evidently the man still had a lot of fans because the project quickly hit its fundraising target.
Critics wondered why Braff didn’t finance the movie himself. Braff argued that he wanted to maintain creative control. This was his vision. But is it the film his fans want to see? The sales pitch was more or less if you liked ‘Garden State’, you will like this.
‘Scrubs’ is now a forgotten footnote in sitcom TV history, we now like ‘Community’ and ‘Parks and Recreation’, Lena Dunham is probably now this generation’s equivalent to Zach Braff. The teens who mimicked their first forays into love from ‘Garden State’ moments may well have moved on. The people who tweeted and complained about the initial Kickstarter campaign have likely turned their ire onto new targets. This week it is probably aimed towards Macklemore dressing up like a Jewish stereotype.
So what does the trailer for ‘Wish I Was Here’ tell us? Braff still likes sweetly optimistic mildly euphoric indie rock. The character, no doubt partly based on himself, is now older with a family and responsibilities. Kate Hudson plays his wife and he has two wise cracking adorable kids. The trailer shows us that Braff gets a lot of bad news, financial woes, his Father seems to be dying, he has a wayward younger brother. We’re bombarded with familiar faces, Jim Parsons is in the film, so his Braff’s buddy Donald Faison. Overall the trailer seems to suggest that this film is mostly clichéd Californian nothingness, a vague story about life’s cruel lessons.
It seems odd after watching the trailer four or five times I can’t help but wondering about what the money has been used for, how many million does it cost to get Hudson and rising stars like Josh Gad to feature in your film? What the hell has all this money been spent on? At one point Zach Braff test drives an Aston Martin along a sunny coastal road. Was this little gauche detail deliberately included to get the critics to re-bite and once again attack this project, just to whip up a little hype and publicity?
I look forward to seeing how ‘Wish I Was Here’ is marketed up to its release date in July. This trailer has left me undecided as to whether or not I want to go see it.