She likes Zach Braff, does my DLP (Darling Loving Partner). She was an aficionado of ‘Scrubs’, a tele show that passed me by – possibly unfortunately given DLP’s descriptions of it. She waxed lyrical on the hilarity of the situations its medical practitioners found themselves in, but also commented that there was much pathos to be had with it as well. My love reckoned the writing in it was first rate, but the star attraction for her was Mr Braff.
So when a trailer for ‘Wish I Was Here’ appeared as a prelude to another movie we were seeing, DLP expressed the desire to make it our next foray to our local art house. For me Braff was an unknown, but as the offering also contained two favourites in Kate Hudson and Many Patinkin, Besides, I adore accompanying DLP to the cinema. With those two actors on board, surely the movie wouldn’t be too bad in any case – and it wasn’t.
So I was intrigued when the Sunday Tasmanian’s film reviewer, Leigh Paatsch, came out and called it ‘…faintly disappointing’, awarding it a paltry two stars – thus, I would imagine, putting plenty of punters off a viewing. Now if one is looking for something with a bit more ‘heart’ – something Leigh P does grant ‘Wish I Was Here’ begrudging kudos for – than the usual generic tinsel town product of comic book heroics and inane rom-coms. you may look to Mr Paatsch for guidance. This being the case, then you would surely opt for ‘The Skeleton Twins’, reviewed on the same page as WIWH. Our esteemed critic accoladed this with four twinklers. So, having immensely enjoyed the underdog, I thought that the higher-rater must truly be superb, it being something that promised a ‘…tale that will resonate (hate that term!) with the perceptive viewer.’ – is he having a go at the average cinema goer? This then was obviously worth a squiz. Neither I, nor LP, were let down by it. ‘The Skeleton Twins’ amply deserved his praise, but I still do not concur with his reticence over the Braff vehicle. To me it wins by the shortest of half-heads.
One ‘Twin’, Milo (Bill Hader) and WIWH’s Aiden (Braff) are both portrayed, initially, as two of life’s losers. As it happens the duo are also failed actors, but Aiden has his old man (Patinkin) providing him with enough of the readies to help support his family whilst he chases his dream. I don’t think Braff, as an actor, is any great shakes, but it was a delight seeing Hudson in a less overt role than her usual ditzy blonde or femme fatale shtick. Mandy P is as reliable as ever, but the role that gave the film extra lustre was that of Joey King as Grace Bloom, the feisty daughter who has to cope with her world being turned upside down when her grandfather’s money runs out. This is due to his battle with cancer/the American health system. Paatsch accuses this movie as being contrived, as it surely was in places and yes, the Hollywood ending can be seen a mile off. But, unlike the product he praises to the hilt, it doesn’t goes beyond the bounds of credulity.
That word – contrived – in my view, would have been better being attached to LP’s more endorsed film. Just how did Milo know where she was and be able to find her in time?. You’ll know what I mean when you see it – and I do encourage you to do so. It was the only jarring note in a great piece that started bleakly, with both Milo and his sister, Maggie (Kristen Wiig), in suicidal frames of mind. Each major protagonists, for various reasons, are overloaded with self-loathing and their means of coping with it are at the centre of TST. Sis is a serial adulteress and gay Milo was involved in something rather tawdry back in his home town, back in the day. It’s to this up-state New York locale he returns to get his shit together under Maggie’s supervision – the blind leading the blind, so to speak. Gradually we, as an audience, warm to these two battered souls. Their duetting and dancing turns are scene-stealing gems. I enjoyed Wiig in this immensely, with there also being an attractive performance from Luke Wilson as hubby Lance – a nuanced turn.
Nah, for my money it’d be hard to separate these two watchable visual creations. Both are loaded to the gills with positive messages about the ‘silver linings’ being there if one is willing to do the hard yards. And so, I am in discord with Leigh P – for each it’s three and a half stars from me.
Trailer for ‘Wish I Was Here’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCponfeWNOI
Trailer for ‘The Skeleton Twins’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhULZJDXLaE