*** Official GARDEN STATE Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Ross Williams, Jul 27, 2004.

  1. Ross Williams

    Ross Williams Supporting Actor

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    I saw this at the Seattle Film Festival and so far it is my favorite film of the year. I thought there was no way the film could live up to that fantastic teaser trailer, but it far exceeds it.

    Just an all around wonderful film. Written and Directed beautifully by Zach Braff. Wonderful performances up and down the line. This is now my favorite Natalie Portman film. Braff is definitely a filmmaker to watch.

    I have a feeling that this will be a film that divides audiences. That it will either speak to you or not. You'll either think, "Wow, that's it exactly." Or, "Why is everyone raving over this pretentious crap?"

    A good interview with Braff over at JoBlo's
     
  2. Kristian

    Kristian Supporting Actor

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    Just came back from seeing Garden State. I was expecting a great movie after seeing the trailer and reading the reviews, but what I got was an admirable movie dragged down by several flaws.

    First, the good: Natalie Portman is really good here in a role that is unlike anything she's ever done. I've never seen her so weird and quirky, and yet I never once thought "There's Natalie Portman acting weird". She made her character feel so real. Zach Braff is also very effective in the lead role. You really care about the character and want him to be happy. Ian Holm is only in a handful of scenes, but he plays the role of the father quite well. And as someone else in this thread said, the use of music was great.

    Now, the bad: I really disliked Peter Sarsgaard's character. I didn't think he fit into the rest of the movie at all. I was hoping the end of the movie would reveal a purpose for all the time spent on him and his stoner buddies, but there was nothing to redeem their screen time. I get the feeling that there was a lot more stuff involving Zach and Nat's characters that was cut just to fit in all the stoner stuff. I guess I wish the movie had taken the Before Sunrise approach and focused almost exclusively on those two characters and their romance, without any annoying distractions.

    And finally, the ugly: Why did we need to see dogs humping and masturbating? Didn't find it funny at all. Nor did I enjoy the seamy hotel scene with Method Man.

    In the end, I liked enough of the movie to recommend it to others, but I really wish it was a better movie all-around. Zach Braff does show a lot of promise here as a director, writer and actor. I can't wait to see his next project.
     
  3. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Garnering very positive word of mouth, I was apprehensive about "Garden State", would it deliver the goods?

    I'm happy to say that amidst all the very funny scenes and cutaways (Braff was obviously paying attention while working on his TV show, Scrubs), there is enough dramatic meat in Zach's character's (Andrew Largeman) story as a guy in his mid-20s returning home to bury his mother, and what coming home means to his outlook on life based on his past.

    Natalie Portman's role of Sam is not underwritten and Braff's script gives Portman plenty of room to provide us with a very quirky, but real character whose flaws actually solidify her value to Largeman in his short time home.

    It's worth seeking out a nearby theater and seeing this film with an audience, the gags are very funny, and the film is poignant in speaking towards that mid-20's period of confusion that many of us (older) can identify with and look back on with genuine reflection.

    I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Garden State". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.



    Crawdaddy
     
  5. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    I talked a bit about it in the Discussion Thread, but I liked this film enough to spend a few minutes writing up a review for my fellow HTFers to skip on the way down to writing their own [​IMG]

    The film walks a pretty fine line between quirky-for-quirky's-sake and landing on truth-is-stranger-than-fiction. Obviously, I am not a fan of the former, and the film is charming enough and honest enough to allow the oddities to fit in.

    There is little preamble...the film just jumps in, and you catch up along the way. But that's fine, as each scene pushes either the story (which is secondary) or the characters (which are not) forward. It's a fairly straightforward boy-meets-girl movie, but it explores the forces around them as well as their relationship, and it treats new love as the extremely magical force it is. It doesn't set up false opposition to create conflict...it simply understands that life is hard enough as it is, and goes from there.

    It's not perfect. Some things were too cute, or too quirky, but they were almost never at the forefront, and to be honest, none were unbelievable. Just a little far-fetched. There were numerous sight gags (thanks for ruining many of them, ads [​IMG] ), and most earned laughs. The technical aspects of the film are excellent. Whether you like the film or not, Braff is insanely talented, and he's earned the coveted "free pass" to his next film (meaning I'll see it no matter what).

    It's been mentioned numerous times, but Braff was hot to get certain songs and bands on his soundtrack, and they really do work. Believe the hype. Great soundtrack. His favorite band is going to sell A LOT of records, as is this soundtrack.

    The acting is, of course, the highlight. In a character-based film, it clearly should be. Braff does a very solid job of reawakening (I suppose) Large into the world over the course of the film. Natalie is as advertised. I've been VERY hard on her in the SW films, but that's because she is special. But she does a solid job here of being the engine here, with all of the strength and insecurity we share day to day. No sign of the megawattage beauty that she actually is...just a great acting job that fits the film and the romance. The remainder of the supporting cast does a bang-up job as well.

    It's a remarkable debut film, and an excellent character piece. I highly recommend it.

    8.5/10,
    Chuck
     
  6. Dave Hackman

    Dave Hackman Stunt Coordinator

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    This is a great movie, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but to those it appeals to it’s a true treasure.

    I really enjoyed watching the on screen relationship develop between Zach Braff and Natalie Portman’s characters. Their acting was superb with everything from dialog to little unsaid things revealed in their facial expressions.

    All the supporting characters are unusually interesting and really add depth to the overall story. This movie is extremely funny in the way all the characters behave and react to one another and will be something to enjoy upon repeat viewings.

    At times I thought Portman was going to ruin her scenes when she smiled too much but thankfully it was just a close call.

    Music is effectively used at dramatic key points with a nice selection of tunes.

    The location fits the story and is visually appealing to the eye

    Best movie I’ve seen this year


    A
     
  7. Todd H

    Todd H Go Dawgs!

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    Fantastic movie. My girlfriend and I loved it. Zack Braff did an excellent job in all aspects. And Natalie Portman was great as well.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  8. Michael St. Clair

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    The gross-out and 'quirky' material just doesn't fit. The relationship with the father needed more development (not necessarily more resolution), and too much time was spent on the high-school buddies. Braff and Portman were good, but the writing was off. Direction was good.

    If you like films like this, where character, mood, and emotion are emphasized over complex plotting, I think you'll find 'Lost in Translation' and 'Punch Drunk Love' to be better.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] of [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    A solid freshman outing. Doesn't deserve awards.
     
  9. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    Just watched it this evening...

    I enjoyed everything greatly, but felt the plot at the end felt too much like the cliche love story ending.

    The acting, the character, the dialogue, camera work, music.

    As a director and actor, Zach Braff gets [​IMG] [​IMG]
    As the writer, maybe only [​IMG]

    8.8/10
     
  10. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Agree with your assessement Nick, especially regarding the end.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] / 4.

    --
    H
     
  11. Pete-D

    Pete-D Screenwriter

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    My main thought is there aren't many movies that deal with 20-somethings in this manner.

    There's teen comedies and a lot of movies about character's having mid-life crisis' in their 30s/40s, but not a whole lot in between.

    Even though it's "quirky", it still feels genuine.

    The ending was a bit dissapointing though, I don't know if Braff really knew how to end it. There are some plotting problems here and there as well, but they don't really detract from the overall package.

    All in all though, a much appreciated change of pace.

    3.5/5
     
  12. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    There is so much to like in Zach Braff’s Garden State. But his choice to cast himself as the film’s most important and central character is his biggest miscalculation. In this case, his supporting actors, Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard, easily outmatch him – a position a person doesn’t want to be in especially if one is also its director and writer as it is tantamount to a rather ambitious undertaking only achieved by a few individuals.

    Most of the film’s sight gags are purposely injected in those scenes involving Braff, as if to detract our attention from or compensate for his limited acting skills. Braff just doesn’t have the range to play the comedic moments he puts the protagonist in, the charisma for its romantic moments, nor is he compelling for the story’s more dramatic moments. An established actor such as Sarsgaard would have been a better choice to play the lead.

    The film’s title doesn’t really remind me of anything specific to the garden state of New Jersey and its ending is more characteristic of your run-of-the-mill romantic comedies rather than a film that is willing to take chances.

    But this story of young adult angst and emotional and romantic awakening works when it doesn’t try too hard to be quirky or funny. Braff’s message of people not taking themselves to their full potential either by choice (Zach’s friends) or inflicted upon them by others or their surroundings says a lot about some people today. Given the potential for a better film however, its missteps are oftentimes glaring.

    ~Edwin
     

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