Parents' Guide to

Wish I Was Here

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Messy but moving dramedy has mature themes.

Movie R 2014 124 minutes
Wish I Was Here Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 16+

This title has:

Too much swearing
age 16+

Terrible - definitely NOT a family comedy to watch with kids!

We borrowed the DVD of this film to watch one rainy day with the kids during the summer holidays. This rainy day arrived today, so we all settled down to treat ourselves with what is advised as a "Comedy" suitable from the ages of 6+. We have a 9- and a 12-year-old, so it seemed appropriate to watch a comedy about (and with the) family. So, in scene 1, there are about half a dozen F-bombs being dropped, from F--K, over f-----g to f---head. Really not okay. But hey, the family in the film have a swear box and discuss cursing, so perhaps this was to make a (albeit very heavy handed) point about it? Unfortunately, the only person that was truly upset by the father's incessant effing and blinding was the daughter, ca. 11 years old, and she was very much belittled by both parents for it. Scene 2 - the father drives his kids to their private Jewish school and makes fun of the Jewish religion (perhaps the director thought it was okay to do that given that the family were obviously Jewish, but come on!) and the rabbis. Very much made all of us uncomfortable. But not as uncomfortable as my husband and I felt when said father starts smoking weed in the school's car park and gets caught by one of the teachers. Ugh! How fun explaining that one when the 12 year old asked us why Jewish people weren't allowed to smoke. Oh, but they are. "So why is he hiding that little cigarette from the teacher?" Thanks for that. The final straw was scene 4 (about 15 mins into the movie) when the father is caught, literally with his pants down in front of a laptop watching..... yes, you got the idea. He's got by the children's grandfather, and this is when we decided that it is distinctly NOT a film suitable for children under 16. We are very cross that the European packaging of the DVD states 6+, and as a result our local library stocked it under "family friendly films". AWFUL.

This title has:

Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5):
Kids say (3):

Braff clearly knows how to tell a story. He's written and directed just two feature films, Garden State and the Kickstarter-funded WISH I WAS HERE, but already you see the imprint of a would-be auteur: quirky characters, pathos rubbing shoulders with humor, and a deep and abiding love for music, which often underscores -- or should we say overemphasizes -- his films' emotional beats. Wish I Was Here is unafraid of complexity, tackling religion, identity, and the tricky balancing act of being both an adult child, bearing wounds from an unsatisfactory childhood, and also a parent buckling under weight of responsibility and overarching love for your kids.

Those are all fine subjects to tackle in a movie. But perhaps they would be better served if the film unwound its tales more sparingly, without the unnecessary conflict; extraneous, irreverent dialogue; and a pushy, if apt, soundtrack. There's one particular scene toward the end, when Gabe's health fades, that speaks to Braff's ability to get at the emotional truth between a father and a son. It stands out as being straightforward and therefore more effective than so many other sections. We wish that Wish I Was Here hewed more to that aesthetic.

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