Garden State [8.25/10]

4 May

This movie tries way too hard to be exactly what everyone claims that it is. It’s not bad, but, like Sideways, doesn’t really live up to the hype. I think some of that hype is probably due to the soundtrack…and while the songs work in the film, none of them really worked for me personally.


natalie hearing the news that she will have to do something
original and unique that has never ever been done before.
[spoiler
] …like a crazy, wacky dance-type thing.
oh, and your pet died and your brother is black. [/spoiler]

The tone was a bit disjointed and distracting until the party scene [which was excellent] and it floundered a bit more in a couple places, but after the party the movie mostly seemed to know what it was supposed to be. Several parts of the film were just too heavy-handed to me…the climax is a perfect example. It even seemed like Natalie was ‘trying too hard’ in a few scenes. If only they had tried to match the tone of the movie with the same amount of enthusiasm.


nice touch: something I’d expect to see in a wes anderson film.

I also has some issues with the ending. [spoiler] I think it could have [should have!] worked without the typical Hollywood-style moment. [/spoiler] The studio or the test audience probably changed what was initially in the script.


I would have written this scene with less clothing…but that’s just me.

You might think I didn’t like Garden State with all the criticism, but I’m only trying to balance out the hype. It was still one of the better films I’ve seen in the past year and a great directorial debut. Zach Braff probably deserves his Independent Spirit Award (I haven’t seen all the other candidates) and I’ll definitely be buying tickets for his next movie. And anybody that writes, directs and stars in a movie where he gets to ‘mack down’ with Natalie Portman earns a place on my secret heroes list.

also: I might have called it Coming Home instead. Garden State just doesn’t feel right somehow. Or maybe You Can Never Go Back?

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