Review: Garden State

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I have been looking forward to this movie for a long time, and unlock many other movies this summer it did not dissapoint. I thought it was very very good. Rathen then typing a bunch though, im just gonna post review of it, because it is pretty much right on in my opinion.

But my bottom line is this is a great film and a MUST see
Garden State
Reviewed by: Edward Douglas
Rating: 9 out of 10
Movie Details: View here

Zach Braff as Andrew Largeman
Natalie Portman as Sam
Ian Holm as Gideon Largeman
Peter Sarsgaard as Mark
Method Man as Diego
Jean Smart as Carol
Alex Burns as Dave
Jackie Hoffman as Aunt Sylvia Largeman
Michael Weston as Kenny
Armando Riesco as Jesse
Amy Ferguson as Dana
Trisha LaFrache as Kelly
Jim Parsons as Tim
Jayne Houdyshell as Mrs. Lubin
Ron Leibman as Dr. Cohen
Ann Dowd as Olivia
Ato Essandoh as Titembay
Wynter Kullman as Pam
Geoffrey Arend as Karl Benson

Andrew Largeman (Braff) is a third rate L.A. television actor who must return home to Jersey when his mother dies. Wandering around in a highly medicated state, he meets Sam (Portman), a quirky young woman who becomes his companion on a number of adventures through Jersey, teaching Largeman that there is a lot more to life than what he left back in Los Angeles.

Considering how many big "buzz movies" have come out this summer, not from the big studios, but smaller films that debuted at this year's Sundance Film Festival, it's amazing when one comes along that takes you by surprise despite having high expectations. Plenty of television actors have thrown their hat into the ring of directing an independent feature, but few of them pull it off as well as Zach Braff does with his first movie, Garden State, a very original take on the overused term "romantic comedy".

It takes a bit of time to get used to the disjointed storytelling as Braff's character Andrew Largeman, better known to his friends as "Large", is dragged from one location to another meeting strange characters before quickly moving on. Everyone at least once in their life has spent a day being dragged around by a friend for reasons only known to them to discover that the quest is often more memorable than the actual destination. While not all of the disparate scenes work, the ones that do are amazing.

Since Large is heavily medicated for the first half hour of the movie, Braff isn't responsible for delivering the laughs that his "Scrubs" fans may be used to. The humor is far more subtle than you might expect, often resorting to sight gags that are more surreal than funny. The characters he meets are not strange in the "Twin Peaks" sense, but more mundane and odd, driven to take their quirks as far as they can. It makes you wonder if there is anyone even remotely normal in Braff's New Jersey.
Leave it to Natalie Portman to be Garden State's savior, something she does quite admirably as the quirky Sam, an adorably insane presence who changes the entire tone of the movie. She is the kind of woman that is almost impossible to not fall in love with, but also one that you know will be trouble for someone as emotionally stinted as Largeman. Then again, you can't help but love someone who has her own personal hamster cemetery in her backyard. Sam/Natalie's freedom of thought and expression is what keeps the movie fresh and interesting, not only because she brings out the best in Largeman in sharing her life with him, but as an actress, Portman brings out the very best in Braff. The chemistry between the two of them is so real and natural that it's almost impossible to not fall in love with the potential of their relationship. Essentially, Sam pulls Large out of his shell forcing his much-needed transformation in a similar to Kate Winslet's role in Michel Gondry's wonderful Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.

As Largeman's best friend and chronic bad influence, Peter Saarsgard pulls out another hilarious performance, his trademark dry wit bringing so much to every one of his scenes. You know that things are good when Sir Ian Holm, better known to some as Bilbo Baggins, has the least interesting character as Large's father and psychiatrist. It's not much of a stretch for Holm even with the stilted American accent, and though their relationship is as important as the one Large has with Sam, most of their scenes are not the movie's strongest moments.

Braff's background as a video director is evident from the way he seamlessly merges the mellow songs of Coldplay and The Shins into the story, and he brings a stylish eye to every scene without getting too flashy or obvious. Sure, there are a few times where the movie becomes in danger of turning into an extended music video, but that may only be due to the nature of the storytelling. Of course, when you put a Simon and Garfunkel song into a movie like this, you're just asking for comparisons to The Graduate, but there are probably worse ways to get your film career in gear than to solicit comparisons to Dustin Hoffman.

The Bottom Line:
Zach Braff's deeply endearing movie about home, family and love is the ultimate movie for dreamers and romantics. It will secretly sneak up on you, and the tears you may experience from watching the movie will be out of joy that someone finally understands what it's like to feel lost and how wonderful it is to find someone that can pull you out of it. Very few movies have gotten that sentiment on film as well as Garden State.

**phewf** good to know it's worth seeing, I've been waiting to see it too.

Stormy Day
Whens it coming out?

topic already done for **** sake

it depends where you live. It came out in NY and LA the end of July and last Friday it was added to a few citites and in a few weeks it comes out in even more, so if its no where nere you yet, it should be in a couple weeks

and spit back the thread in the movies forum is a place to discuss the movie this is to review it..

Stormy Day
I live around Sacremento,California erm

on their website they only list San fran and LA as place that have it.. but i dont see Bethesda, MD on it and thats where i saw it you may be able to find it yet.. if theres a theater around you that had farenhight, napoleon dynamight, open water.. or other indie films check with them they will most likely by the ones to show it

Stormy Day
I dont think im gonna see it tho sad


Stormy Day
See what?

I saw this movie, though I'm not big on romantic comedies because they all tend to be the same, this is amazing! I have never liked Natalie Portman in a movie before now. If Zach Braff doesn't make it as a director, I'm gonna be mad, this movie is sooooooo good. Now that it's playing in more theaters (nearer to where I live now) I'm gonna see it again. It takes a really good movie for me to pay the theater to see it twice.

yea thats what makes this great.. its not crazy action or anything, just a simple story and people still wanna see it again and again.. even people who dont normally like movies like this.. thats why im tryin to spread the word and get more people to go see it, because not a person yet has gone and then told me it wasnt great

I live in Jersey so I kinda want to see it

me too slipknot, i went to the movies yesterday, and it was playing there, but it was rated R, and me and my friends were going to see another movie, but atleast i know is playing closes by smile

Jersey Rules

Jersey does kick some major ass

I think I expected too much of this movie....wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be. Still good though.

yea i read in an interview that if you say "****" more then once your garunteed an R rating.. that being why Garden State is rated R.. being a small time indie he didnt wanna change the script at all to accomodate a rating

This was a great film. Zach Braff was oustanding as the drugged out young man who eventually realizes everything life has to offer after he gets off of his perscription drugs. Natelie Portman is also outstanding, reminding us that she can play a charasmatic character to a tee, which is easily forgotten when remembering her character in the Star Wars films.

This movie reminds us of all the little things in life that can add up and make it beauiful.

from Zach Braffs blog:
" In the world of Garden State, you will notice that it's slowly coming out of theaters. It will continue to wind down between now and Thanksgiving, so if there's that great aunt you always wanted to see it or that girl you don't quite have the balls to ask out but you wanted to take her to the movie cause it's romantic and you thought the odds of you getting your mack on would go up - now is the time. I'm working - at many of your requests
- at getting the DVD release date moved up a week or two from December 28th. But you can pre-order the DVD on Amazon."

so if youve been thinking of seeing it better get out there and see it soon

its already like #197 on IMDB's top 250

What BackFire said.

I apologise for bringing this up (again) but this being an Indie film, it didn't have a wide release. I had to hunt down a cinema that played it.

Excellent movie, really excellent. I loved Zach Braff in Scrubs, and I was worried that he might fall into the trap that many other TV first actors fall into, and just play the same character over and over (*Matthew Perry*), but of course he didn't. Gets bonus points from me because I actually liked Natalie Portman, who I've despised ever since Leon, her only good role up until Garden State.

Probably the best directorial debut since Resevoir Dogs.

Fan of LOTR
It was good

Excellent movie.

Well, I got around to watching it this evening, and while I thought I was going to come on here and bunk the best directorial debut comment, I found myself in total agreement.

Braff wove a really, really familiar story. There are a lot of people, be it medicated or just detatched from so much in their youth, and when things come back them, it all crashes down and they are left in a real state of solitude. Largeman is an extremely identifiable character.

I think the comment was made once before about this sharing thematic elements of "Eternal Sunshine" where a quirky, live for today type girl comes along and breaks a recluse out of his shell. While Kaufman did it with somewhat incredible "gimmicks", which isn't a bad thing, Zach Braff had a real fervor in his story. It had characters that complimented each other, were unique and easily relatable. It was a smart romantic comedy. No pretention, no cliched love triangle, no stealing, and he always left you guessing.

Not to mention some great cinematography pieces, i.e. Largeman sitting still while literally everything else was in fast forward, his "white room". There was some fantastic cinematic allegory that narrated Large's state.

Beautiful movie, and it's certainly one of the better indies I've seen with some SOLID performances, namely that of, once again, Peter Sarsgaard. Zach Braff pulling off the trifecta of writing, directing AND starring in his own film,and it being as concise and effective as it was just doesn't happen.

When it does, however, you know you've got something special.

just bought Garden State on DVD - love this movie

Dr. Strangelove
I liked it although I did have some problems with the film with mostly scenes that went nowhere, that cut from Zack's character and his Dad scenes which IMO wasn't touched upon enough. I also didn't like the ending which was pretty cliched. Still a good movie though, especially for a first time director.

Great debut film, it not perfect, it does veer a little too closely towards sentimentality on occasion, but is dragged back from the crevice by some cynical humour and the ambiguous Peter Saarsgard, is he good or is he evil?

Excellent soundtrack, which fits the film perfectly giving it that 70's veneer of sensitivity and intelligence. It is funny, but I expected it to make me laugh more.

Many reviews have given it 5 stars or 10 out of 10, I dont think its quite that good but its close. One of the best films ive seen this year along with Napoleon Dynamite and Dead Mans Shoes.


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