It's not coming out until July, but there are already a lot of reasons to want to hate Zach Braff's new movie, Wish I Was Here. There's the fact that it was funded on Kickstarter, which typically isn't used to pay for millionaire actors' passion projects. There's the Garden State comparison, which, for those who only remember that amazing soundtrack, is not necessarily a good thing. There's the fact that it's made by Zach Braff, who, despite all those years on Scrubs, is actually pretty annoying most of the time. So when the full Wish I Was Here trailer premiered on Monday, we were prepared for the worst, ready to roll our eyes at all the pretentious dialogue and sigh at the manic pixie dream girls on-screen. To our surprise, however, the preview had us feeling something else entirely: actually pretty excited.
Like the teaser trailer released last month, Monday's preview introduces viewers to Braff's Aidan, 35, a struggling actor, father, and husband trying to figure out the purpose of life. His father (Mandy Patinkin) is sick, his teenage daughter (Joey King) has shaved her head, and his brother (Josh Gad) is too immersed in the world of cosplay to help out when the family's in chaos. There's also a visit with a rabbi, an empty container labeled "this pamphlet could save your life," and a cameo by Braff's best friend/soulmate Donald Faison. It's all very Braff-ish, meaning it's quirky, affected, and full of not-so-subtle metaphors, but surprisingly, it works. The actors are talented and the dialogue is funny enough to make Wish I Was Here, despite its pretentiousness, seem like it really could be something special.
That is, except for one big thing: Braff's acting. Every line he has in the trailer is over-enunciated and slow, as if he's making sure the viewer knows that he really, really means all the (many) platitudes he's saying. Compared to the natural line-reading of his co-stars, Braff's acting comes across as overdone, in your face, after a few seconds, extremely annoying. He's reading his lines like he did in Scrubs, when J.D. was constantly spacing out to contemplate the mysteries of life. On the series, that kind of quirky, weird delivery worked, because the show and its characters were supposed to seem out of the ordinary. For a realism-based movie, however, saying each line like you're doing vocal warmups for a play only serves to make the viewers cringe.
Here's hoping the clips used in the trailer aren't indicative of Braff's acting throughout the entire film, because we'd hate to see an otherwise appealing movie ruined by something as basic as the way the main star reads his lines. Wish I Was Here has enough promise overall that we can forgive the generous use of slow motion and cliched screaming-in-car scenes, but the leading actor's inability to sound like a normal human being? That might just be a deal breaker.
Watch the trailer below:
Image: Focus Features