Garden State

Critics Consensus

Delivering a quirky spin on familiar twentysomething tropes -- with a cannily-placed soundtrack -- Garden State has enough charm to mark a winning debut for first-time director Zach Braff.

86%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 192

88%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 330,087

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Movie Info

After many years away, television bit part actor Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) returns to his small home town in New Jersey to attend his mother's funeral. There he is confronted by various aspects of the life he left behind, including his overbearing father (Ian Holm). Largeman also meets compulsive liar and amateur musician Sam (Natalie Portman), with whom he feels an immediate connection. Together with several other figures from his past, Largeman heals old wounds and forges new friendships.

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Critic Reviews for Garden State

All Critics (192) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (166) | Rotten (26)

  • On the basis that it behoves all of us to keep a little nugget of our 15-year-old selves locked up in our breasts, I'm going to say this is a loveable film and that you should all go and see it to awake your inner adolescent.

    December 20, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Quote not available.

    November 7, 2011 | Rating: A
  • Feels too piecemeal and ultimately inconsequential to grab the public where it counts.

    March 26, 2009

    Todd McCarthy

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • This is a movie where 'sensitivity' and 'sincerity' are signposted by songs by Paul Simon and Nick Drake, which I guess says it all.

    February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Quote not available.

    March 7, 2005 | Rating: 3/5
    Independent (UK)
    Top Critic
  • A witty, wacky, and wonderful trip through the minefield of being twenty-something.

    December 7, 2004 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Garden State

  • May 18, 2014
    Zach Braff directs and acts as the lead in this melo-comedy where a small time actor comes back home to his estranged family when his mother dies. The film starts off oddly surreal, with a stoic Zach Braff in the lead. Really feels like a modern day Graduate, especially when you include the similar eerie soundtrack. Garden State has a strong wit, but also goes in depth in the dramatic elements. The humor is sly, smart, and often but the film remains serious. The film also features Natalie Portman, who in other cases would be an annoying character, but here fits in well. Garden State is a pleasant suprise.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Mar 17, 2014
    Touching and charming, Garden States features great performances (especially from Natalie Portman) and an interesting premise. It also contains some memorable scenes that are expertly crafted and at times smartly hilarious.
    Matthew Samuel M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 08, 2013
    Zach Braff's directorial debut, Garden State, is a compelling coming-of-age tale about self-discovery and the malaise of young adulthood. When Andrew Largeman returns to his hometown for his mother's funeral he's forced to confront his inner demons and meets an eccentric young woman who gives him a new outlook. Zach Braff and Natalie Portman give excellent performances; especial Portman, who's wonderfully charming and charismatic. And the writing has a sharp wit to it that makes it quite powerful. Additionally, the soundtrack is incredibly well-crafted, and gives an emotional residence to the film. Garden State is a quirky and heartfelt comedy with a unique look at life.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 12, 2013
    A small-time actor (Zach Braff), doped up on heroic doses of antidepressants, returns home to New Jersey for his mother's funeral and finds love with a quirky lady (Natalie Portman) while working through his family issues. The first half hour is an excellent, deadpan comedy of alienation that feels like a 21st century riff on THE GRADUATE; momentum slowly fades away as the script yields originality to the conventions of the romantic comedy genre.
    Greg S Super Reviewer

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