Garden State - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Garden State Reviews

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May 27, 2018
I really like the fact that this movie tackled the subject of mental illness and imperfection. Some parts were idealized and ignorant about this topic. But over all, it had a positive message.
April 4, 2018
Life, love, grief, friends, dysfunctional families, and making choices. A good story about finding love while finding self, and having some laughs along the way.
March 2, 2018
Charming, touching, sweet, sad, and ultimately joyful -- an indie film with a great alt-folk soundtrack that beautifully portrays a young man's journey back to himself.
½ February 25, 2018
Quirky, indie movie that didn't do much for me. This was my first exposure to Zach Braff and I don't feel compelled for more.
January 17, 2018
Chick flick about a guy with a very troubled past who meets a girl and falls in love. Also a good comedy, but more dry humor than anything else.
November 28, 2017
Good movie. Kinda depressing but not in a bad way. Zach Braff does good in his first project.
October 1, 2017
An enjoyable, offbeat romantic comedy that isn't markedly romantic in the conventional sense until the end. In between a string of hedonistically quirky events centered around old friends who in many cases haven't quite figured out how to become fulfilled adults, twenty-something Andrew Largeman (played by Zach Braff, who some of us still immediately associate with "Scrubs") slowly realizes a series of fundamental truths about himself and life in general with help from an unusual girl he meets in a waiting room. Eventually he grasps a message that changes his life.

Move features a Grammy-winning soundtrack that includes Coldplay, The Shins, Colin Hay, et al.
August 15, 2017
A very solid directors debut for Zach Braff. Some very nice and funny scenes about quirky people finding purpose in life. Very hipster, great soundtrack choice. Not a must see but really quality performances by both Zach and Natalie.
July 15, 2017
The majority of "Garden State" is wonderful. Out of the hour and forty minutes it runs for only twenty or so are less than stellar. It never becomes a bad movie, it just forces its sentimentality a little too much, and there are directions some scenes go that I feel were written more to fulfill some sort of fantasy Zach Braff had than to benefit the story. But those parts of the film are easy to look past, because the bulk of the package here is really, truly great. Also I apologize for saying both "bulk" and "package" in the same fully appropriate sentence.

I've seen this film numerous times at the time of this review, and it's one of my favorites. Every time I watch it I have a new experience, and it'll always have a special place on my shelf. I apologize again, this time for saying "time" so many times.

Upfront, the heart of this film is Natalie Portman's character, Sam. When she enters, everything just beautifully passes by until the end credits. This is her best role. I mentioned earlier that there are some less than stellar moments. None of them are during scenes with her in them (except for the ending, which I'm just not a fan of). Again, it's not ever a bad movie, but when she first shows up it becomes a whole new level of fantastic. And I get the whole point of making us relate to the main character's exhaustion with life through making the film feel less exciting before she arrives, and I do like that idea. But the problem is that each pre-portman scene feels like an excuse for a visual gag, or for Zach Braff to deliver a philosophical quote. Once again, it's never a bad movie. But Portman's character is just so well performed, and sympathetic and engaging that she's what really makes the film special.

I don't want to give all the credit to Natalie Portman, because every member of the cast and crew clearly did a very good job. Braff's writing is excellent, and the supporting cast is as well. And Braff's lead performance is really good too. His lack of overly abrasive or loud emotions contrast Portman's abundance, and that's what makes her stand out. They have great chemistry in the film.

It's tricky for me to describe how I feel about "Garden State." No matter what I say or how I word my sentences, I don't think I'm properly conveying how I feel about it. I guess I can summarize by saying that it's a flawed film, and obviously the director's first, but that's an attribute that I think adds to the charm. If it were a perfect movie I doubt it would resonate with me so well. It's a story about embracing being human, and the bumps and cracks in its shell allow that message to transcend the film.

Also it's quite funny. I forgot to mention that. Zach Braff swept me up in being philosophical.
½ July 7, 2017
Braff delivers a solid and endearing, if clunky executed, dromedy/coming-of-age flick.
½ April 19, 2017
Something's going to happen.... something's going to happen.... something........ and it's over.
Super Reviewer
½ January 26, 2017
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.
January 13, 2017
A slow start is elevated by the arrival of Natalie Portman. Once she arrives in the film it starts to ramp up and make sense due to the quirkiness of the plot in the beginning. The film has such a simple plot in that it explains the loneliness of the characters throughout. All of them are flawed but once they are together they are able to shove it aside and remiss on the greater things in their life. I loved the chemistry between Braff and Portman. All of their scenes were top notch and calm. This is really one of the best romantic comedies I have ever seen.
January 2, 2017
Garden State is gleeful film about a young adult finding his way in life and juggling between his past and future. Well written and phenomenally acted, Garden State fills me with pure joy.
½ December 9, 2016
Not a comedy in my books, not by any stretch of the imagination. A bittersweet movie about coming to terms and becoming the person you were owed to be, a film about mending the broken tiles of the path to forgiveness. Not an epic, nothing extraordinary -- but then again... it needn't be. This is a good movie. Watch it. Let it do its "thing" and it just might surprise you.
August 7, 2016
I'm not very good for this kind of movies. I think not even Natalie Portman could save it for me. Not a bad one though.
½ July 25, 2016
In addition to a monotonous script, there's not a single likable or fully developed character in the whole movie.
½ July 12, 2016
I was late to the scene this one so I got to see it apart from all the hype. Add that to the fact that I never watched Scrubs and don't care about either of the main actors and you get a good, not great romcom.
July 8, 2016
one of my faves and one of the best movie soundtracks of all time
July 4, 2016
Garden State shouldn't work this well. It's a familiar tale of a struggling twenty-something whose life improves upon meeting what many would consider a manic pixie dream girl, and their (mis)adventures as they wander though a meandering story that's light on plot. It comes from the writing/directing debut of an actor whose most notable role, up until this point, was in a television sitcom. And yet, there's something truly special at hand here.

The aforementioned writing/directing debut is that of actor Zach Braff, who keeps his directorial style simple in order to focus on character. Braff crafts a rather beautiful series of events and characters in a story that is semi-autobiographical to his early life as a twenty-something with little to no direction in life. These elements of Braff's life are mirrored into the life of protagonist Andrew Largeman, whose own aimlessness and emotional numbness is sure to be relatable to anyone who has faced a similar point in their life. Braff proves that he really understands this character not just through his screenplay, but through his performance as well: as the film, and Largeman as a character, progresses, Braff evolves from stoic to more outspoken, and is given multiple opportunities to prove his acting chops.

The film sounds like quite a downer, but there's a lot of laughs and all-around happiness to be had here though. While the subject matter deals with a lot of heavy themes, Braff also intersperses a healthy dose of humor into the film, most of which is quite deadpan but endlessly funny. It's never too outrageous, and blossoms organically from these characters and their situations. A lot of great moments come from interactions between Largeman and Natalie Portman's Sam, who couldn't be more different to the former. Her eccentric quirkiness sometimes rides the line of being a little too over-the-top, but Portman is simply too strong of an actress to let that happen, and she keeps her character grounded and very easy to relate to as well, especially towards the end of the film. On paper, Sam is a very manic pixie dream girl type, but Braff manages to subvert the trope by giving her a lot of development that, like Largeman's, has to evolve over the course of the film.

There's a reason why Garden State is a cult classic and a film that defines a certain generation of young adults. It's an impressive indie film with a lot of relatability, and a strong showcase for Zach Braff as an actor, a writer, and a director, the ultimate trifecta. Andrew Largeman may be emotionally numb, but you certainly won't be by the time credits roll: between the laughs and more somber emotional moments, there's sure to be something that will resonate with most anyone who has shared the same experiences of these characters.
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