Zach Braff is back and hopefully here to stay

10th Annual Tribeca Film Festival - Vanity Fair Party - Arrivals

Today marks the release of actor/filmmaker Zach Braff’s second directorial outing in Wish I Was Here, and it’s only his second film in a decade, after making his writing and directing debut with Garden State. During the past decade, he hasn’t even done too much in the way of movies, even after he left his hit television show Scrubs. Still, he’s got a new flick in theaters and I’m thrilled to have him back. Oddly enough though, a few articles this week have sort of bemoaned his return, so I wanted to counteract that negativity with some positivity, since I’m quite fond of his talents and hope he’s here to stay now. So, once again, I’m providing the optimist’s counterpoint.

Braff spent the past ten years trying to get different projects off the ground, but they just never came to pass. First up was a remake of the Danish drama Open Hearts, which would have starred Sean Penn with Braff in a supporting role. There also was the kids fantasy movie Andrew Henry’s Meadow which he wrote with his brother (a different one from the brother who co-wrote Wish I Was Here with him), plus the romantic comedy Swingles, which Braff came on to re-write and direct as well as star in at one point. Open Hearts especially is one I hope he comes back to, and who knows, he just might now, especially since he’s spoken openly about still wanting to make it. My fingers are crossed…toes too.

During that time he did take some acting jobs, including the incredibly underrated The Last Kiss (which was oddly marketed as almost a follow up to Garden State and might have had some uncredited rewrites done by Braff). There was also The Ex, Chicken Little, Tar, and The High Cost of Living, plus Oz: The Great and Powerful. None of those are much to write home about aside from The Last Kiss and The High Cost of Living (though I have to say that I haven’t seen Tar), but it has always seemed to me like Braff was concentrating more on preparing to step behind the camera again, so now that he’s done so, I’m intrigued with where he might go next as an actor.

Now, he’s got Wish I Was Here, a Kickstarter backed Sundance dramedy that I think is among the best movies of the year so far. The film isn’t getting amazing reviews, but I’m willing to go it alone here. I was thoroughly touched by it and will be championing the flick all throughout the year. As much as anything, it’s just nice to have Braff’s voice back out there.

Going forward, I sincerely hope he finds a balance between getting his personal filmmaking projects off the ground and signing on for various indie and studio acting gigs. He’s got a knack for dramedy when he writes and directs, while when he acts he’s a very responsive actor, perfect for a big high concept comedy. I’m not his agent, so I can’t tell him what to do, but I would urge him to stay busy. He’s too good to stay at home, even if he has to utilize Kickstarter again. It worked once, so I have to assume that it would work again, provided the project was appealing, of course.

Basically, I’m someone who enjoys Braff not just as a filmmaker, but as an actor as well. He’s at his best when he’s his own boss, so I’m eager to see him get back behind the camera again soon. He was gone for too long, so I’m thrilled that he’s back. Hopefully, he’s here to stay!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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