"Happy Christmas" costar Melanie Lynskey tells a joke.
John C. Reilly opposes mean people
Aubrey Plaza on dating zombies
"Happy Christmas" costar Mark Webber raps.
Anna Kendrick, ladies and gentlemen.
Paul Reiser on why "Whiplash" is scarier than "Life After Beth."
Elijah Wood tells a joke
Rainn Wilson sings lyrics to the "Office" theme
Simple, likable, sincere answer from Dane DeHaan.
Molly Shannon tells me a joke.
***1/2 (out of four)
Seriously: Jenny Slate has arrived. In the wonderful “Obvious Child,” she’s funny, vulnerable, lovable and specific—an odd character who feels real because the person playing her makes her real. It’s like Kristen Wiig in “Bridesmaids,” and “Child” feels like that kind of breakout part for Slate (“Kroll Show”). I hope.
She plays Donna Stern, a stand-up comedian whose act consists only of venting about her life. On and off stage, she’s proudly vulgar, with unintended vaginal functions and bowel movements serving as her way of relating her concerns to the world. After she’s dumped and fired in quick succession—the unisex bathroom-set breakup scene achieves special, heart-slicing insincerity as the dumper constantly checks his phone while confessing to cheating—Donna eventually has a drunken night with Max (Jake Lacy of “The Office”) that results in an accidental bodily function she hasn’t yet covered in her act.
Expanding her short film of the same name, writer/director Gillian Robespierre avoids nearly every cliché and pitfall that could derail a movie like this. She makes Donna and her plan to get an abortion messy but blunt. With each line (Donna tells the audience, “I feel like when someone does something bad they should just die”) the filmmaker cuts right to the gut of pain or loneliness or uncertainty or all of the above. That the film is often cackle-inducing funny is no small achievement for something so honest.
A few moments stretch credibility, but the rapport between every character, especially Donna and Max, more than compensates. At a restaurant they share one of the sweetest moments I’ve seen on screen in a while, and no way I’m going to ruin it. I want to hug this movie. -- Matt Pais, RedEye
Ashley Greene loved "Garden State" and Braff wanting "to do it again. "
Kate Hudson on relating to "Wish I Was Here."
Donald Faison on working with Zach Braff.
Full review: ‘Wish I Was Here’
* (out of four)
After waiting 10 years to make his follow-up to “Garden State,” Zach Braff probably could have kept his sophomore writing-directing effort “Wish I Was Here” free of gags about Sinead O’Connor, Ani DiFranco, Tang and the Amish. Especially when several of these stale jokes come from his character, a struggling actor in L.A. you’d think would be pop culture savvy enough not to walk into an Aston Martin dealership and awkwardly claim to work with “Sean ‘Puff Daddy Dirty Money’ Combs.”
It’s not just the jokes that seem like they’ve been in a vault for a decade. “Wish I Was Here” demonstrates that Braff has no new moves as a triple threat, or even a single threat. Don’t get me wrong: I loved Braff on “Scrubs,” and though “Garden State” hasn’t aged well, it spoke directly to my 20-something angst. In “Wish I Was Here” (co-written by Braff's brother Adam) every character sounds like Braff, and they’re all emoting and saying Hallmark/sub-Bueller-isms like, “You need to wake up because life is happening all around you.” This is earnestness without poignancy.
In what sometimes feels like part Apatow (“This is 40”), part Coen brothers (“A Serious Man”) and all schmaltz, Aidan (Braff) decides to home-school his kids (Joey King and Pierce Gagnon) after his dad (Mandy Patinkin) can no longer fund private Jewish day school due to cancer treatment payments. Inevitably, Aidan tells his daughter she won’t need to know geometry, and she becomes the teacher when it’s clear dad doesn’t know anything.
Side note: Not remembering what you were taught in fifth grade does not mean you know nothing about life. This was also the fundamental problem behind “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”
I’m not a cynic. I’m often easily moved, very much inclined to go for stories about struggling families and the fear that life is racing by as regrets pile up. Yet in “Wish I Was Here,” Braff merely shoots emotional fish in a barrel without contributing to the conversation.
Parenting and getting older are anything but easy, but “Wish I Was Here” merely repeats the same old complaints about sexually unsatisfied dads and dreams that didn’t pan out. Yet Aidan’s rarely forced to make adult decisions or have adult conversations that don’t sound like college-level stream-of-consciousness. Oh, and the acting’s mostly lousy, partially a result of all the characters speaking the same way. It’s part platitudes (“We move forward; it’s the only direction God gave us”) and part hand-me-down lunges for laughs (Aidan repeatedly says stuff like, “[Bleep] the swear jar”). That’s to say nothing about the running gag about a dog named Kugel who pees everywhere or Aidan’s strange, nerdy brother (Josh Gad) about whose subplot involving a beautiful neighbor (embarrassingly underused Ashley Greene) I can’t say anything because it’s only two scenes and they go from bad to worse. “Wish I Was Here” repeats things that weren’t funny on “Entourage” eight years ago and hopes that the universal notions of searching and sadness will redeem the dreadful script and pathetic gags like a rabbi riding a Segway or Aidan’s wife Sarah’s (Kate Hudson) problems with an inappropriate colleague (Michael Weston).
The film’s best moment might be when Aidan looks at a container that says, “This pamphlet could save your life.” The container’s empty, as if Aidan was this close to getting on the right track and came late to the info session. That’s perceptive and funny. Most of the time, though, “Wish I Was Here” finds Aidan navel-gazing and unable to derive joy from his children. He’s having a midlife crisis with the perspective of a quarter-life crisis, even delaying an urgent trip to the hospital to satisfy his ego. Late in the film, he learns a simple (and contrived) lesson about karma and then tosses the message aside, again advancing his own interest without considering what he’s teaching his kids.
I wanted to like “Wish I Was Here.” I wanted it to speak to me the way “Garden State” did, at least the first time. Instead, “Wish I Was Here” (which does make a nice point about unwittingly passing down fears through generations) is desperate, manipulative and self-indulgent. It often seems like it’s missing a laugh track, and there may be no greater sign of Braff stubbornly stuck in the past than his use of Colin Hay’s "Beautiful World,” which featured prominently in “Scrubs.” With a film about assessing life and having the guts to move forward, the filmmaker doesn’t practice what he preaches. -- Matt Pais, RedEye
Zach Braff introduces 'Wish I Was Here' at Sundance