There are lots of laughs and sighs at Judaism, too, as rabbis infiltrate the halls of schools and hospitals, where Aidan Bloom, an L.A. actor, finds himself all too often rather than in films. His father agreed to pay for his children’s yeshiva tuition, but he’s fallen back on payment. Aidan’s wife Sarah insists that he confront his brutish father, and when he sidles up to the problem, Gabe admits his cancer is back. He wants his son to take his dog, Kugel, a mangy barker.
Aidan tries to foist the dog onto his ne’er do well brother Noah, who lives in a trailer — a little slice of Mumbai, as Aidan describes it — and declares Noah’s a blogger now, not an app-developer.
The Brothers Bloom need saving, not just because of their dying father or Aidan’s dying career but also because Aidan’s children need schooling and his wife is being harassed at work. Plus, his swear jar is full: dollars for f words. But before this lovely, honest, funny movie is over, Aidan, an epiphany seeker, has found a good use for the darn money. The movie had started with Aidan’s voice-over declaring that he and his brother used to pretend they were heroes, complete with swords, but now he thinks they might be ordinary men, the kind saved by heroes. The movie blessedly ends there, too.
“Wish I Was Here” has an impressive cast. Zach Braff is Aidan. He embodies the shlemiel, the one white guy in a sea of black guys up for a part.? Josh Gad is Noah, and he embodies that role of the tubby disappointment. Kate Hudson is wonderful as the wife, and marvelous Mandy Patinkin makes a good bad dad although he could probably have been gruffer early on. Joey King is a perfect adolescent daughter, shaved head and all, and Pierce Gagnon is dandy as the boy.
Jim Parsons, out of his Sheldon Cooper persona, works as a fellow actor, and Donald Faison sells a good car.
Braff wrote the role with his brother Adam, and “Wish I Was Here” is about two brothers, so maybe it’s autobiographical. It’s certainly near perfect. There’s a bit of dialogue involving the phrase “da nada” that’s thrown away. “Wish I Was Here” also offers good tone, epitomized in the patriarch’s advice: “Move on,” he tells his son: “It’s the only dream God gave us.” “Wish I Was Here” is a sweet movie about death and dreaming and daring.