Zach Braff’s new movie Wish I Was Here, the one he partially funded on Kickstarter, has its first trailer. There’s hazy light, slow-motion walking, people standing on something and shouting at something else, The Shins. It looks very Zach Braffy. I suppose if you never outgrew the precocious twee of Garden State, there’s a good chance you’ll like Wish I Was Here. But like Garden State, to me, it just looks like an expensive student film.
Wish I Was Here premiered at Sundance and is due in theaters in July. Reviews so far have not been kind. “Self-indulgent” gets tossed around a lot—I would add “fart-smelling”. Garden State was intolerable (Lainey: I liked it!), but Braff had good command of his camera and I thought if he would stop wafting his own farts up his nose he could turn into an interesting storyteller. Wish I Was Here does not appear to be a step in that direction. The episodes Braff directed of Scrubs, however, are great and not at all fart-smelly. I don’t know why that isn’t translating to feature film, unless it’s a case of “I can do more things in film, so I must do all the things in film”. It’s a common fault for directors who transition from TV to film.
Does this justify the Kickstarter experiment? Well, for better or worse, Braff got to make the movie he wanted to make without compromising his vision. (I am terribly curious to know what sort of cuts a studio wanted him to make.) Braff fans get to see his long-awaited follow up to Garden State, which might not have happened otherwise, certainly not in this form. That seems to be the central reason to use crowdfunding to make a movie—fan service. It’s basically saying, “There’s not an actual audience for this, but if a few of you are willing to pay for it, we’ll make it just for you guys.” I’m still not convinced, though, that’s a good reason to make a movie. Especially when the results so far have been mediocre at best.