Writer/Director Zach Braff delivers "an Oscar®-worthy performance" (CBS-TV Chicago) opposite a "wacky and endearing" (Newsweek) Natalie Portman in this quirky, coming-of-age comedy. Twentysomething, emotionally detached An... more »drew "Large" Largeman (Braff) hasn?t been home to New Jersey in nine years. Now, as Large attempts to re-connect with a variety of odd acquaintances ? including his father ? he decides to risk getting high on the most potent and unpredictable drug there is?life! Co-starring Peter Sarsgaard, Ian Holm and Method Man, Garden State is "marvelous fun" (Rolling Stone)« less
MaryAnn W. from SAINT LOUIS, MO Reviewed on 4/16/2014...
I love Zach Braff but this movie was just one more reason I don't like Natalie Portman. Her character is stiff and uninteresting.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Charlene C. (mccoffield) from SOUTHLAKE, TX Reviewed on 12/13/2011...
What a great, original film, written and directed by Zach Braff, who also took the leading role. Who ever thought that this star of the sitcom SCRUBS would wind up being such a good writer/director? And both Braff and his co-star, Natalie Portman (The Other Boleyn Girl; Black Swan; Where the Heart Is), do a find job in their roles. TIn fact, the whole cast deserves accolades for their on-target performances.
In some ways, this is a rather quirky movie -- primarily due to the somewhat sad but oddly loveable characters that inhabit its small town setting. Though the characters, through some people's eyes, might be considered odd, they are actually quite realistic of some inhabitants you would find living in small town America -- kind of like a place frozen in times past.
I think that the "study", if you will, of these 'odd' characters are what really makes the movie so good. Though 'odd', these are realistic people, the kind of people you might not run into every day, and the kind of people who add so much flavor to the film. No one, including ourselves are really 'normal', are we? How boring would that be?
So, if you like interesting movies -- the type that receive accolades at the leading Film Festivals -- you should enjoy this quirky, heartfelt, blackish comedy and coming-to-terms kind of film. Fans of block buster, action packed type films need not apply.
6 of 6 member(s) found this review helpful.
David O. from BERKELEY, MO Reviewed on 8/13/2009...
This movie is horrendous.
2 of 10 member(s) found this review helpful.
Alice H. (singlegalkansas) from TOPEKA, KS Reviewed on 2/1/2009...
I liked this movie. Can relate to it and also felt it was a good movie.
3 of 7 member(s) found this review helpful.
Mary-Jo W. (mjowest) from SHELBYVILLE, MI Reviewed on 7/10/2008...
A quirky, unexpected movie!
A movie that should have received more atttention-it's good!
6 of 8 member(s) found this review helpful.
Beauty in the breakdown.
Benjamin | ATLANTA, Gabon | 08/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Zach Braff's impressive directorial debut "Garden State" features an excellent soundtrack, a downright hilarious performance from Natalie Portman and a true message for anyone who feels like they've been sleepwalking through life. I left the theater feeling very glad that I'd seen it, for it spoke to me. Of course, like the characters in the film, now that I've faced some issues that were plaguing me, I'm at a loss as to what to do next.
But maybe that's the point. "Garden State" merely shows its main character beginning to escape the issues that essentially imprison him because that's all it really can show.
The four days that occur in the film merely jar Andrew, played by Braff, out of his complacent, medicated state - and, at its end, he's only begun to deal with how to live his life. He's started to be active, not passive. He's choosing what he wants. But he's unclear what to do next.
Of course, I'm talking about the film as though it were a psychological experiment. Because the movie made me think.
But the film's greatest strengths are its just-quirky-enough characters, unlike the oddballs presented in other films like "Napoleon Dynamite." The film also has a real sense of humor, an affection for its title location and a romance that feels more sweet, enlightening and comfortable - rather than irrationally passionate.
"Garden State" is an interesting feat, and I highly recommend a trip to the theater."
Not perfect, but highly recommended
Devon | San Diego, CA United States | 06/26/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As most of my moviegoing experiences these days have been, I sat in a room full of college students who lined up hours in advance to see Garden State. And we watched in utter amazement, sadness, excitement, laughter...not even because it was THAT good, but because we were watching perfect reflections of ourselves on screen.
After the screening, Zach Braff (who had, he told us, been sitting behind the audience the entire time) talked to us about his film, answered some twenty-odd questions, and truly revealed why this film was a piece of art. Yes, Braff himself was almost as entertaining as the movie itself. But Garden State still held its own.
Braff's debut film as writer, director and star, the film involves the protagonists' (Braff) journey to re-find himself as he travels back to his home town in New Jersey. Previously defined by his tidbit roles as a Hollywood actor and his parentally diagnosed psychological illnesses, Braff rekindles old friendships and makes new ones along the way. Natalie Portman, who gives an outstanding performance, plays possibly the most well written female role I've seen in a long time. The energy exuded from her presence on screen is unmatchable and a wonderful contrast with Braff's underplay of his character.
The plot has its moment, but is nowhere near the dynamic adventure of an oscar winning story. However, the little things carry the film. The music, for example, is AMAZING; Braff's choice of soundtrack is most certainly one of the success stories of his film.
The film is not without faults, such as lack of exploration in certain storylines (especially concerning the protagonist's father and the introduction of numerous characters who are never fully developed). However, the film's unique and intense direction and cinematography coupled with some brilliant acting make this film a must see. Especially for the college generation.
Not perfect, but highly recommended."
Learning to feel again
Shelley Gammon | Kaufman, Texas USA | 09/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Zach Braff has succeeded in doing something that is quite rarely done well, especially on a first attempt - he wrote, directed and starred in his first film - and the whole thing works amazingly well. Braff plays Andrew Largeman ("Large" to his friends), a small-bit actor biding his time in a ritzy Asian restaurant between acting gigs, waiting for another big break. His medicine cabinet looks like he could open his own pharmacy - mind altering drugs such as Vicodin, Paxil, Lithium, Darvoset and others - which leave him in an emotionless rut.
His father (Ian Holm) leaves what sounds like a final, desperate message for him on his answering machine, his mother has died - from drowning in the bathtub. He leaves his drugs behind and heads home to Newark to attend the funeral. Two of his loser buddies from high school days are the drugged-out grave diggers at the cemetery and he stops to say hello and is invited to a party... anything to avoid talking to his father who he has successfully avoided for 9 years.
The party is a drugged-out nut-fest with some fold-yourself-in-half humorous scenes that follow the next morning when he awakens after his night-long stupor. The film is more of an experience than just a movie - glimpses into the quirky, odd little eccentricities of normal, everyday people.
As the drugs (both prescription and illicit) finally find their way out of his body, Andrew finds himself awakening to life anew. He is starting to feel things for the first time in memory... even pain is a welcome friend when contrasted with emptiness. Just as his head begins to clear the haze, he finds Sam (Natalie Portman), a girl fighting her own family and neurological demons and closeted skeletons. The two make fast friends and find themselves taking a journey that is more wild than any drug or siezure induced experience that either of them have ever been through.
The R rating is appropriate - there is paint-peeling language, a plethora of illegal drugs, and a raunchy sex scene (not between the lead actors - rather a view of the Garden State's underbelly)... so this is not a family film.
There are many tender and bittersweet moments. It's amazing that Braff was able to pack in so much into one film with so many characters, and enable you to get emotionally involved with nearly all of them, particularly the leads. I will be shocked if he doesn't at the very least get an Oscar® nomination for best screenplay for this freshman effort - this is a stunning piece of filmmaking and a film well worth seeing and experiencing."
Blew the socks out of my expectations
Relentless | Gainesville, FL | 10/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I reluctantly went to this movie with my wife. I was expecting the typical chick-flick format, plot, and lackluster acting. This movie certainly got me by surprise. From the first scene and on it get more and more interesting. It's a movie about life's decisions, about love, about friendship, about being truthful to yourself, about knowing what you really want and what you really need. The actors were very, very convincing. The setting and the props were magnificent. The story line was superb. The character development very solid. And the movie is so human, so "tangible" it's easy to relate to. Very good movie and would highly recommend. If you have not seen it, go now. You won't regret it."