Zach Braff follows up "Garden State" with this new film that could be described as a "Garden State" for adults. He tackles lots of themes, some better than others but his script is at its core is filled with stereotyped characters and situations that try too hard to be funny in a depressing drama.
We learn early that a major character is dying, which is important to the story but the impending death casts a pall over the rest of the film. Mr. Braff's character is struggling with family, his job, and his relationship with his father and brother to the point of exhaustion. He has the loving supportive wife, played well by Kate Hudson and the requisite precocious little boy and more mature than her years, teenager daughter played wonderfully by Joey King. His slacker brother is played by Josh Gadd, a good actor in a typical role and Mandy Patinkin is perfect as Mr. Braff's judgmental father.
Mr. Braff stars, directs and has co-written the script with his brother. It is obviously a personal film for him and it's his direction that stands out. He does an admirable job getting the best out of his cast. Ms. King, in particular excels here and is the best thing about the film. She has been steadily building up her resume in a slew of films, usually playing someone's daughter and is definitely a young actress on the rise. As with his previous film, Mr. Braff also makes excellent choices for the music in the background.
There are some fresh settings for the story which helps mask the "I've seen this before" feeling but the ambition of the script ultimately disappoints. And, after suffering along with the characters, the audience is treated to a feel good ending that ties everything up neatly so you can leave the theater feeling better. So, at least, thank you for that, Mr. Braff.