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.



Total Count: 191


Audience Score

User Ratings: 330,026
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Movie Info

Andrew Largeman shuffled through life in a lithium-induced coma until his mother's death inspired a vacation from the pills to see what might happen. A moderately successful TV actor living in Los Angeles, "Large" hasn't been home to the "Garden State" in nine years. But even with 3,000 miles between them, he's been unable to escape his domineering father Gideon and the silencing effect he's had on his son from afar. Stunned to find himself in his hometown after such a long absence, Large finds old acquaintances around every corner living quite unique lives as gravediggers, fast food knights and the panderers of pyramid schemes. Meanwhile, at home, he does his best to avoid a long-simmering but inevitable confrontation with his father. By a twist of fate, Large meets Sam, a girl who is everything he isn't. A blast of color, hope and quirks, Sam becomes a sidekick who refuses to ride in his sidecar. Her warmth and fearlessness give Large the courage to open his heart to the joy and pain of the infinite abyss that is life.


Zach Braff
as Andrew `Large' Largeman
Ian Holm
as Dr. Gideon Largeman
Ron Leibman
as Dr. Cohen
Ann Dowd
as Olivia
Jackie Hoffman
as Aunt Syliva Largeman
Jayne Houdyshell
as Mrs. Lubin
Ato Essandoh
as Titembay
Geoffrey Arend
as Karl Benson
Soara-Joy Ross
as Handi-World Cashier
George C. Wolfe
as Restaurant Manager
Gary Gilbert
as Young Hollywood Guy
Jill Flint
as Obnoxious Girl
Chris Carley
as Gleason Party Drunk
Yvette Mercedes
as Neurology Receptionist
Ryan B. Moschetti
as Teen in Hallway
Joe Bacino
as Man Having Sex
Seth Michael May
as Peeping Tom
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News & Interviews for Garden State

Critic Reviews for Garden State

All Critics (191) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (165) | 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.

    Dec 20, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Feels too piecemeal and ultimately inconsequential to grab the public where it counts.

    Mar 26, 2009

    Todd McCarthy

    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.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A witty, wacky, and wonderful trip through the minefield of being twenty-something.

    Dec 7, 2004 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Mr. Braff, Ms. Portman, Mr. Sarsgaard and Mr. Holm never strike a false note as a remarkably coherent acting ensemble, and it is good to see Ron Leibman again in the small role of Doctor Cohen.

    Sep 10, 2004 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

    Top Critic
  • Cleverly written, sensitively directed and very well-acted.

    Aug 20, 2004 | Rating: 4/5

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 he 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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