Opening 9 Oct 2014
Writing credits: Adam J. Braff, Zach Braff
Principal actors: Zach Braff, Joey King, Pierce Gagnon, Kate Hudson, Alexander Chaplin
Family’s expectations are explored in this comedy-drama from director/actor Zach Braff (Aiden). The gist of the film is Aiden still chases his dream, while his wife supports the family, and his father pays for the expensive Jewish school his grandchildren attend. Gramp’s change in circumstances redirects his money to a different cause, so now home-schooling will be mandatory, besides saddling Aiden with his dog. Brilliant brother Noah is no help – left watching the kids, the couple returns to find Grace has shaved her head. But, they are family and, especially now, they need to stick together.
The film’s weary theme is overall unremarkable, and milks Jewish clichés. Yet, it has its moments. These, together with the terrific performances carry the film. Kate Hudson’s Sarah personifies a fledgling matriarch’s temperament – funny, kind, patient, wise – while being softly supportive and brutally honest. Whereas Braff’s Aiden and Josh Gad’s Noah are each unique, and so affably honest and unorthodox, you cannot help liking them. Just as personality differences between Pierce Gagnon’s adolescent Tucker and Joey King as teenage sister Grace are nicely brought out – both are fantastic. Mandy Patinkin pulls off the grouchy, patronizing patriarch who overrides his egotism to extort his humanism. Production values are sound. To finance his second film, Braff (Garden State, 2004) raised half the 6 million dollar budget through Internet crowdfunding – over 46,000 worldwide contributed. With its likeability, and truthful sincerity mixed with universal familial truths, the film makes us all want to end up a hero. (Marinell Haegelin)