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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.
All Critics (191)
| Top Critics (40)
| Fresh (165)
| Rotten (26)
| DVD (19)
Feels too piecemeal and ultimately inconsequential to grab the public where it counts.
This is a movie where 'sensitivity' and 'sincerity' are signposted by songs by Paul Simon and Nick Drake, which I guess says it all.
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.
Cleverly written, sensitively directed and very well-acted.
His movie is sweet-natured and skillful, but its biggest problem is perhaps one Braff wasn't prepared to deal with: his own performance -- or, more accurately, the decision to place a deliberately flat performance at the film's heart.
Garden State may not define an entire generation, but it has a sharp eye for the passive aimlessness that can take hold when young adults realize there's no handbook on how to find purpose and meaning in life.
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.
Braff captures the specific, self-involved ennui of the aimless 20-something, and he doesn't do it from a point of smug detachment.
Although flawed, Garden State is a good-natured film whose very likeability leaves you willing to overlook its shortcomings.
Smart drama for mature older teens and up.
It's no longer a generational alarm clock, but for those who've seen loved ones stumble through complacent fogs of Paxil, Zoloft and the like, "Garden State" still warns that "stability" doesn't mean a numbness to anything not emotionally even-keeled.
There is not a shot in this movie that doesn't shine...
What a fine movie, finding just the right balance between humor and thoughtful scenes. Especially the writing is excellent, but so is the acting. If Natalie Portman wouldn't have gotten her Oscar nomination for Closer, she would have deserved it for her quirky, natural and wonderful performance in this. Just try not to fall in love with her character. Each awesome song from the soundtrack fits perfectly into the scene it is played in. Such a wise, sad and funny movie with a really unique atmosphere. Kudos to Zach Braff for pulling all that off. And the ending is nothing but perfect.
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.
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.
The directorial debut of sitcom actor Zach Braff, many were impressed and surprised by the serious depth and eccentric writing in the script. Also starring in the titular role of Andrew Largeman, Braff is mirroring his own life story and the reaches of his own depression at the time he wrote the script. Now an indie darling and cult classic, the film certainly resonates because of its following of a family's turmoil, but more importantly the role of the deadened senses of the young, and how a person in a quagmire really needs to grab at life for the good. The film centers on child actor turned waiter Andrew, who comes back to his home state of New Jersey for the funeral of his father. He runs into his friends from high school, meets a doctor's receptionist who is a pathological liar and a loveable girl next door, and tries to understand the procession of his life without mood altering drugs or the guilt over his mother's injury. Most of the film is about a love story between down and out Andrew and epileptic Sam, who is making her way through life while keeping her disability a secret and trying to connect to someone besides her loving and yet embarrassing mother. Full of really great and odd performances, it contains many great actors who usually take on smaller and yet substantial roles such as Peter Sarsgaard as a grave digging kleptomaniac, Ian Holm as Andrew's psychiatrist father, who had put his son into a lithium infused haze, and strangely enough a cameo from rapper Method Man as a bellhop. Sincerely, Braff has created a very youth centered and dramatized film, including a Grammy winning soundtrack put together by Braff himself, and an ending that is understandably clichéd and yet satisfying.
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