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Wish I Was Here

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for language and some sexual content.

Reviewed by: Jake Roberson

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Comedy Drama
1 hr. 46 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 18, 2014 (limited—68 theaters)
July 25, 2014 (wide—625 theaters)
August 1, 2014 (wide—753 theaters)
DVD: October 28, 2014
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Relevant Issues
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strained relationship with a brother and father


dealing with imminent death of a father


eternal life

losing your dreams

effects of continual use of vulgar and profane language

use of pornography


faith in God

God (WebBible Encyclopedia)

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What does God say? Answer

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Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

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Paradise or Pain? Why is the world the way it is?
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer

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Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

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Will all mankind eventually be saved? Answer

Featuring: Zach Braff … Aidan Bloom
Pierce Gagnon … Tucker Bloom
Kate HudsonSarah Bloom
Joey King … Grace Bloom
Alexander Chaplin … Rabbi Rosenberg
Leslie David Baker … Audition Actor #1
James Avery … Audition Actor #2
Ato Essandoh … Audition Actor #3
Jim Parsons … Paul
Mark Thudium … Terry
Mandy PatinkinGabe
Josh GadNoah Bloom
See all »
Director: Zach Braff
Producer: Worldview Entertainment
Double Feature Films
Distributor: Focus Features

“Life is an occasion. Rise to it.”

Aiden Bloom (Zach Braff) is stuck in a rut. It isn’t just that his back fence is falling down or that his pool sits around filthy and unusable. It’s more than the fact that he has a strained relationship with his brother (Josh Gad) and his father (Mandy Patinkin). And even though a lack of physical intimacy with his wife (Kate Hudson) can be frustrating, and he can’t get an acting gig anywhere, there’s still more to his predicament at the end of the day.

You see, on top of all that, his kids just lost their spot in private school because his dad, Gabe (who has been footing the hefty school bills), has cancer again and needs the money for an experimental treatment.

All that has a way of weighing on a guy and his family, especially when money is tight and lifelong aspirations are on the line. Aiden really doesn’t know what to do with any of it, but, before he can blink, he finds himself forced to homeschool his two precocious children while grappling with the implications of the imminent death of both his father and his dreams.

Language: The Bloom’s have a swear jar in their home, and the amount of language we hear in the film easily explains how its contents wind up serving as the funds that fuel the family’s homeschool field trips/adventures. We hear 32 f-words, 11 abuses of God’s name, 9 “sh*ts,” 4 “a**es,” 4 “h*lls,” and one misuse each of Jesus’ name and “d*mn.” “D*ck” is thrown around several times, as is “poontang” (including by children who don’t realize what it means), and elsewhere there is a reference to “hairy balls.”

Sexual content: Speaking of male anatomy, we see Aiden’s bare backside as he masturbates to a pornographic video on his computer (which we hear, but do not see). His dad walks in unannounced, and they have a brief conversation about how Aiden and Sarah’s (Aiden’s wife) sex life is faring. Later on, Aiden and Sarah (who is dressed in short Daisy Duke’s and a flowy top that leaves her midsection exposed) hug and begin to kiss and caress passionately. This culminates in sex (offscreen), and we see them lying in bed afterward (no nudity).

At Sarah’s office, her cubicle mate has pinups posted on his wall and talks about getting “aspirational half-boners.” A brief scene features Aiden’s brother, Noah, having loud (clothed) sex, doggy style with his next-door neighbor, while still dressed in their (non-sexual) ComicCon costumes. In separate scenes, two women wear clingy tank tops that make it obvious they aren’t wearing bras.

Violence: A man is punched hard in the face.

Aiden’s father, Gabe, is Jewish and, although Aiden has rejected faith ever since he was a teen, his children attend a private Jewish school in L.A. as part of a deal Aiden made with his father that keeps the kids out of public school. So there are many conversations surrounding the topic of faith in a Jewish context, and many references to God (and most of them are earnest ones). We see children singing Jewish songs, and a few key scenes take place inside a Jewish temple.

Even though he has rejected the faith of his father, Aiden finds himself wrestling with questions of purpose and mortality over the course of the movie. Indeed, he, his wife, Sarah, and their daughter, Grace, all ponder those questions in meaningful ways.

There aren’t many answers doled out before the credits, but each character seems to be at least moving in the right direction. It is refreshing to hear some earnest conversations about God in this context, even if Jesus never factors into the equation. But one could easily build on the questions raised in the film and have some very encouraging conversations about faith and the answers that God has provided to us through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

When Aiden is wondering if God is seeking him out and trying to guide him, a rabbi at the children’s school tries to encourage him by telling him that, “God can be whatever you want Him to be.” Out of context, this kind of thinking can be very dangerous, as it can lead us toward creating gods in our own image, instead of seeking out the one true God. However, in the context of the conversation they are having, wherein Aiden is talking about how he feels more spiritual (and like God is reaching out to him) when he ponders the infinite expanse of the universe, the sentiment feels more akin to David’s words in Psalm 19:1-4:

”The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the Earth, and their words to the end of the world.”

The fact is that God does reveal Himself to us in many ways—through the joy and unique faith of children—in the wondrous majesty and complexity of nature—even in the pain we all (even the Blooms) walk through on this Earth and experience in different ways (Romans 5:3-5).

How can we know there’s a God? Answer

What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer

We don’t witness the Blooms finding Jesus onscreen, but the film opens and closes with Aiden recognizing that, as much as he and his brother used to play at being heroes and saving the world, “maybe we’re just regular people, the ones who get saved.”

Which, as we know, thanks to Jesus, is an essential component of our faith and salvation (Romans 5:6-11; John 3:16-17).

Much like life can be, “Wish I Was Here” is a mixed bag. It is rich in its own dry, quirky way, and there are some valuable themes to dwell on long after the credits have rolled. It speaks to the value of fatherhood, even broken, imperfect fatherhood, and reaffirms the irreplaceable role of family in each of our lives. It reflects on the importance and value of faith, and on the questions we all wrestle with when contemplating the meaning and purpose of our brief sojourns here.

But, like life, things get messy. Conflict happens and feelings get hurt. Sexuality and language, both incredibly beautiful in their God-ordained context, are misused and abused. People, broken and imperfect just like you and I, struggle to appropriately respect and relate to one another.

And so, just like in life, discernment is key. This is not meant or made to be a family film, and some of its content will (rightfully) rule it out for many adults, too. But, for those who do see it, and who are able to sort through the chaff, there are important lessons about God, life, family, and faith to be thought through and, hopefully, more than a few heartfelt conversations to be had.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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