Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Family Chaos

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Family Chaos

Article excerpt

'Wish I Was Here' hh1/2

The first movie directed by Zach Braff since his 2004 indie hit, "Garden State," has a full quirkiness quotient.

Six-year-old Tucker tries to take a cordless drill to the yeshiva school he and his older sister, Grace (Joey King), attend. Their dad, out-of-work actor Aidan (Zach Braff), is caught masturbating to erotic material on his laptop by his widowed father, Gabe (Mandy Patinkin).

Aidan's wife, Sarah (Kate Hudson), has a boring office job and an insufferable cubicle mate given to saying inappropriate things. Gabe's reclusive other son, Noah (Josh Gad), lives in a trailer near the Pacific Ocean and is working on a costume for Comic-Con.

The Blooms' barely ordered lives are thrown into further chaos when Gabe announces that his cancer has returned, he is trying a last-ditch experimental treatment and will no longer be able to pay for the children's schooling. "What'll we do?" he says to Aidan. "We move forward. That's the only direction God gave us."

With no money for private school, no tuition help from the rabbi and no desire to enroll the children in public schools, Aidan decides to home school the children, an alternative that does not go according to plan or lesson plan, if there was one. At the same time, Gabe lands in the hospital, and Aidan re-evaluates his faith, career path and the brothers' boyhood dreams of being superhero spacemen.

The film addresses thorny questions about God, supporting a family, educating children inside and outside a classroom, and how small, ordinary acts can be heroic.

The dramedy is occasionally heartfelt, but it zigzags all over the place. It's messy, like life.

Rated R for language and some sexual content.

Extras include deleted scenes, a "Directing While Acting" featurette; Aston Martin dealership outtakes; commentary.

-- Post-Gazette

'Life of Crime'

Some are characterizing "Life of Crime" as a prequel to the great "Jackie Brown." The new film, based on crime king Elmore Leonard's 1978 novel "The Switch," centers on two characters featured in the 1997 film (also based on a Leonard book, "Rum Punch"). Aside from sharing the characters of Louis Gara and Ordell Robbie -- played by Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson -- "Life of Crime" is no prequel. The events of the two tales are completely unrelated, and the new Louis and Ordell, as portrayed by John Hawkes and Mos Def (who is now calling himself Yasiin Bey), register less indelibly on our senses than they do in "Jackie Brown." Both actors do an adequate job of bringing to life the characters that they have been given. But the story, adapted for the screen and directed by Daniel Schechter, feels noticeably sluggish and spiritless.

R for crude language, sex, nudity, drug use and some violence.

Extras include commentary, deleted scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette and a "Hit & Run: Choreographing Mayhem" featurette. …

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