It would be important for me to mention the content rule in watching films. There is always a chance in searching for great works of film and music that one may have to filter through superfluous darkness that sometimes does have something to do with corruption and enable the storyline to be more believable. However, I am more under the assumption that Hollywood requires a certain amount of swear words, violence and sex to be infused into the film. This can make things difficult for the Christian. It would be sound doctrine for lovers of Jesus and aspire to live pure and Holy lives. But I am also under the impression that fallen people who seek to impact the world with their stories through the lens of film can include not needed darkness yet compile brilliance in reflecting God. The Diablo Cody film Paradise(which I review back in November) tells very striking points about life, God and the pain and confusion that conservative Christians can go through. However, I don’t think it would ever be deemed a Christian film.
Writers: Zack Braff and Adam Braff
Director: Zack Braff
Stars: Zack Braff, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Joey King, Mandy Patinkin and Pierce Gagnon
In light of the opening paragraph I have to say that there was some displeasing moments in this film including heavy cussing and otherwise some sketchy sexual content but filtering through that there is very subtle yet bold strokes of genius in this movie. I have to make the same content advisory for Garden State(now 10 years old) and its ability to convey the post adolescent struggle of trying to be a man and trying to be a grown up. In fact, in the book Generation Me Jean Twenge actually outlines Garden State as a premiere example of what young adults can drift themselves into post high school. Garden State showed hopes of a young man that was not willing to live the rest of his life numb to hard stuff and numb to the pain. Rather, life is about facing what is hard and embracing all that it has for you. Natalie Portman’s character embodied this and also directly said it in the film toward the end. Life is..(and the world fills in the blank)..whatever you want it to be.
Why I loved it so much..
Wish I Was Here now follows Aiden now decade later struggling in his marriage and with his kids and still mourning the loss of his mother. Aiden is full of distance. He is not present. Hence, the title, Wish I Was Here. Aiden is not making it as an actor and the swear jar keeps adding the money because of his many cuss words he uses around his young kids. However, the pain of his distance is most felt with his complicated relationship with his dying dad. Gabe(Aiden’s dad) has cancer and is on the deathbed and could go at any minute. The opening monologue reflects on Aiden’s childhood ambition to play superhero. He pretty much says, ” I used to imagine saving the world..to those people out there..but maybe we are just the regular people, the ones who get saved!”
Aidan is trying to get his also at a distance brother Noah to come and join in helping their dad live his last moments. Mandy Patinkin as Saul, however, is so good and so disturbing all at the same time. Its clear to me that one of the clearest story lines of my generation revolves around man and his father and all that goes along with that. So many stories center on some form of ‘quiet desperation’ with dad and how a man really will be messed up his whole life if his dad was a total jerk and didn’t care. Aiden, however, seeks to find here by being there for his dad. Noah seeks to face the pain too even though he admits that he is scared and that losing his mother was the hardest thing he had ever been through and he didn’t want to go through that again.
Aidan makes his other indelible statement to his brother, saying, ” now we are actually called upon to do something that requires some actual bravery!” And Sarah(Kate Hudson) tells the dad that this moment will shape your sons for the rest of their lives..it will shape who they are as men.
I cried a lot during this film. And its nothing I need to hide that I never had the best relationship with my dad, but one thing is for sure you only get one shot at this life. Every man gets once. Every man gets one shot and if he is lucky maybe you don’t die young and God lets you live even longer. I have to embrace hard things and hard people. Not because I am so much softer then the world around me, but because I am just as hard. I wish I was here all the time. All of me gets all the good and the bad that comes with being alive on this earth at this time in history.
So much of stories and films are about human survival and sometimes the hardest things we have to do usually involve those closest to us. Either saying goodbye to someone you kind of want dead and you kind of want gone, yet you know the love you have for them will not fade, even when they are gone. Learning to love yourself and loving your broken dad. Which for most of us is the situation in which we were raised in these are all things that make for excellent stories and for whatever reason Zack Braff makes this whole couple of sentences work. Aidan says, “we are finally called upon to do something great we spend our whole lives wanting to do something great and now requires some actual bravery..and he says to Noah and you go and hide..(Aidan then) says the only problem with hiding in a fish bowl is that everyone can see you!”
I also like that Aidan quotes T.S. Elliot and the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock..Aidan says ( from the poem) .“Time yet for you and time for me!”
Come out of hiding and face the inner man in you that maybe didn’t get dealt the best situation with maybe not so healthy parents and live life. Don’t wish you were here, simply just be here. See this film! The for certain highlight of the summer in terms of going to the theater and seeing a movie. Heavenly Father is also a very well crafted song to add to this soundtrack that Bon Iver specifically wrote in response after he saw the film all the way through.