Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff) is a 35-year-old father of two struggling to be an actor in L.A. while his wife, Sarah (Hudson) works a tedious data job. In order to send their kids, Tucker (Pierce Gagnon) and Grace (Joey King) to a good school, they rely on help from Aidan's father, Gabe (Mandy Patinkin), who insisted they go to an Orthodox Jewish day school.
When Gabe reveals his cancer has come back, he tells Aidan that he's decided to put the rest of his money into a new stem cell treatment, meaning his grandchildren can no longer afford to attend their school. After the school refuses to provide any aid to the Blooms, Sarah suggests that Aidan homeschool his kids, and their adventure of self-discovery begins. Through teaching them about life his way, Aidan gradually discovers some of the parts of himself he couldn't find.
His brother Noah (Josh Gad) is a shut-in who can only be bribed to babysit for his brother and refuses to see his dying father, from whom he is estranged. Noah falls for his neighbor Janine (Ashley Greene) who is a furry costume maker, which gives him the idea to impress her by making a costume for Comic-Con.Zach Braff as Aidan Bloom
Kate Hudson as Sarah Bloom
Joey King as Grace Bloom
Pierce Gagnon as Tucker Bloom
Mandy Patinkin as Gabe Bloom
Josh Gad as Noah Bloom
Ashley Greene as Janine
Jim Parsons as Paul
Donald Faison as Anthony
Phill Lewis as Nerd
Leslie David Baker as Audition Actor #1
James Avery as Audition Actor #2
Mark Thudium as Terry
Bob Clendenin as Defense attorney
Michael Weston as Jerry
Alexander Chaplin as Rabbi Rosenberg
Bruce Nozick as Dr. Becker
On April 24, 2013, director Zach Braff launched a Kickstarter campaign for his comedy film Wish I Was Here, aiming to make $2 million to boost the project, based on a script he co-wrote with his brother Adam J. Braff. Cinematographer Larry Sher was set as director of photography and producers Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher were set to produce the project. The campaign raised $2 million 3 days after the project was launched. On 15 May Worldview Entertainment stepped in to gap finance the project, which at that point had raised over $2.6 million. On May 24 the campaign ended, having raised $3,105,473 from 46,520 people.
At the film's New York premiere, actress Joey King stated that she donated money to the film on Kickstarter before she was even attached as a cast member.
At the time the Kickstarter was launched, Zach Braff and Jim Parsons had already been cast. Braff played Aidan Bloom, a struggling actor, husband and father trying to find his purpose. On May 14, 2013, Mandy Patinkin joined the cast, playing Gabe Bloom, Aidan's father. Josh Gad also joined the cast to play the role of Aidan's brother. On May 15, Anna Kendrick signed on to play Janine, a young woman who is into Cosplay. Kate Hudson joined on May 20 to play Sarah Bloom, Aidan's wife. Joey King was set to play Grace Bloom, the 12-year-old daughter of Aidan and Sarah Bloom, on July 2, 2013. Pierce Gagnon was added to the cast on July 9, to play Tucker Bloom, son of Aidan and Sarah. On July 17, it was announced that Ashley Greene would replace Anna Kendrick as Janine.
Principal photography took 25 days, beginning on August 5, 2013 in Los Angeles and ending on September 6, 2013.
The film's first trailer was released on April 9, 2014.
The film had its world premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival in January 2014, 10 years after the premiere of Braff's directorial debut Garden State. Focus Features bought the distribution rights for $2.75 million.
After its opening at Sundance, it was announced that the film would open on July 18, 2014, exclusively in New York and Los Angeles. The release ended up a bit wider, playing in 68 theaters during its opening weekend. The release then expanded on July 25.
Wish I Was Here received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a rating of 44%, based on 117 reviews, with the site's consensus reading: "There's no denying Wish I Was Here is heartfelt, but it covers narrative ground that's already been well trod – particularly by director Zach Braff's previous features." On Metacritic the film has a score of 43 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The soundtrack for the film includes an original song by The Shins, an original song by Bon Iver, and an original title track by Coldplay, recorded with Cat Power.
- "So Now What" by The Shins
- "Broke Window" by Gary Jules
- "The Mute" by Radical Face
- "Cherry Wine" (Live) by Hozier
- "Holocene" by Bon Iver
- "The Shining" by Badly Drawn Boy
- "Mexico" by Jump Little Children
- "Wish I Was Here" by Cat Power and Coldplay
- "Wait It Out" by Allie Moss
- "The Obvious Child" by Paul Simon
- "Breathe In" by Japanese Wallpaper featuring Wafia
- "Heavenly Father" by Bon Iver
- "Raven's Song" by Aaron Embry
- "Mend" by The Weepies
- "No One to Let You Down" by The Head and the Heart