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Garden State (2004)
Could have been so much better
A lot of people try to figure out whether or not the movie they saw was really good or really bad. It's either garbage or extremely misunderstood. To put in my own $0.02 i'd say this film is neither. It's an average drama with an interesting premise and a great soundtrack.
First the good stuff. The soundtrack is by far the best thing about the movie. How can you lose using anything from Nick Drake? Coldplay's "Don't Panic" never hurts, either. When I found out the main character had been on lithium I thought it would be an excellent thing to address in a film today. I don't feel there's enough said about kids on meds and how the current generation y is more a victim of this sadness than any other. I thought Zach Braff overall did a pretty believable portrayal of his character.
I had no expectations before seeing this film so i think what i feel isn't total b.s. I really think Natalie Portman's a pretty girl and there is something to be said about crying on cue, but this role just ain't hers. She just can't convince me she's anyone but Natalie Portman. Beautiful,just not a very good actress. And it's not *because she's a hot lady, see Naomi Watts and Milla Jovovich. She just overacts in a lot of her scenes and I don't think she thought more into putting much originality into it. It's a shame because there was potential there somewhere, but Natalie never seems to feel totally comfortable with letting loose. Even her screaming is uptight.
Another huge problem besides Natalie's acting are the supporting characters. Maybe I'm too sensitive about this because i'm a Wes An- derson fan and think that for every quirky thing a movie shamelessly adds to a supporting character they should equally add something important to the script or narrative. Not for inside jokes or laughs, but something adding to the theme. There is a theme to this film, but it's as if the director wanted to make this generation-defining film, and it was more important than making a great or original film.
From what I gather one of the themes, a very good one i admit, is that being sober and feeling pain is more important than numbing everything out. If there were any other themes in this movie, then i have to ask, did they apply to the character who works at Midevil Times? Or did Zach just think it would be funny to shoot a guy wearing a suit of armor? Did the fact that Zach's father was so stiff really make sense? I could understand he may have held resentment or anger at his son, but he seemed too reserved for having just lost a woman he was in love with for many years.
I almost think that the gratuitous sex scene in the movie theatre was so that the film could be rated r., thus making it an Oscar contender. That's sadly the way it goes, folks.
To sum it up i think Zach Braff is a talented guy. But this film at best targets a specific audience bracket to which this 25 year-old guy is just outside of. It's not that I didn't appreciate the premise and its theme, just that I have seen movies that have tried to make the audience care about the protagonist by throwing in as many eccentric characters as they can. Bottom line: it tried too hard and is just average.