Garden State The title is, of course, ironic. The central character is a bit actor living in California (his big claim to fame is having played a "retarded football player", so lets just call him "retardoactor"), who earns his living as a fake Vietnamese waiter in an oriental restaurant. He hears a message from his father via his answering machine, who obviously cannot get his son to even talk to him, that his mother has died. The most amazing thing in the whole movie is that he actually goes home to New Jersey for the burial - why bother, he's had no or essentially no contact with his family for ten years? At the burial, he meets up with a couple of old school chums, the backhoe operators burying bodies at the cemetery. His "best friend" is a pot and meth or crack smoking fellow who we find out earns money for his drugs from shoplifting and stealing the jewelry from the corpses of the people he buries. We could call him "graverobber", but I prefer "methead". He roundly castigates retardoactor for not bringing home all the drugs he had obtained in California. We meet a couple more of his friends. The one person in his circle of buddies who apparently had some brains is a nerd who developed a revolutionary fabric closure substance, "silent velcro". He is paid off handsomely to keep the stuff from coming to market, and now lives in an empty mansion. Lets call him tycoonboy. His life has dissolved into a boring fog of drunken drug/rape/sex orgies, fed by underage cokewhores who threaten blackmail with less passion and reluctance than I show ordering an ice cream cone. His is the success story in the movie. After retardoactor goes to tycoonboy's house for an orgy, where he smokes dope and drops (apparently) acid, he comes down from his trip at methead's house-in every way quite representative of a speed freak's domicile-torn curtains, mismatched broken furniture and dirty squalor. Retardoactor meets up with a pathological liar, with at least one other mental disorder, while being dry humped by a lady's seeing eye dog in a doctor's office where they are both being treated. During his catscan, he finds out that methead's mother has covered his body with obscenities in waterproof ink, including comments about the size of his penis. Apparently, she had a good time with him, too, although he was too stoned to know it. After their respective exams, retardoactor and patholiar find they are attracted to each other,so they begin a relationship immediately. Patholiar's most salient advice to him in the entire movie is to kick male animals in the balls, repeated several times. We meet more of his old buddies, and the real losers are the ones who are maintaining steady jobs. The one who is advancing at a chain restaurant, the one who is working as a clerk "for awhile" and the nerdboy at a thinly disguised Home Depot clone where methead is shoplifting-nerdboy might as well be wearing a big rubber nose and plastic glasses. At patholiar's home (she actually seems to have a fairly nice, if fruity, mother) they talk to each other about their lives. She still has a Christmas tree up, and she accuses him of being Jewish, but he assures her that he isn't really Jewish and doesn't even KNOW any Jews who go to a Temple (the type of congregation in the most liberal branch of Judaism) more than one day a year. We find out that retardoactor was sent away to boarding school because his parents felt he was a threat to their well being after he crippled his mother for life (paraplegia) by attacking her because she was insufficiently pleasant for his tastes. He has a confrontation with his father, where his father advises him to forgive himself (anyway-his father obviously has), and that all he had ever wanted was for them all to be happy. Retardactor advises him that he was NEVER happy, and that he would (graciously} forgive his father for trying to make him happy. Retardoactor and methead and patholiar all go on a quest to a fencing operation (the fence and his family was by far the most sympathetic and normal family group in the movie) where methead obtains the locket he had stolen off of the dead body of retardoactor's mother. Retardoactor decides that he has to go figure everything out in California, or some such thing, and patholiar accompanies him to the airport, where they say their tearful farewells. The denouement is when he gets off the plane and returns to her. He's decided that there is nothing to reach for, and that he is going nowhere, in an ending of emptiness which makes the bus ride in "The Graduate" look like a romantic, committed, heroic quest. Not recommended.
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