Garden State

Dan Movie Reviews

BigSheb came down tonight, and we headed over to Westwood. Got a killer metered parking spot (free after 6pm!) and picked up our tickets for Garden State. It was in the Mann Village theater, one of the best on the westside. Considering the positive buzz surrounding the film, and the fact it was in this theater (and Cellular was relegated to the Mann Bruin across the street), I figured it would be a pretty crowded show. While that ended up not being the case, the theater was about half-full, and everyone enjoyed the film.

Before I talk about Garden State, let me first say something about Jude Law. Yes, Jude Law. No, he’s not in this film, but apparently he’s in eight films this year. Yes, EIGHT. Unfortunately, whoever put the trailers together for Garden State put three of these trailers in front of the film. Two of them in a row! So while I think Jude Law is a decent enough actor, I’m already sick of him – and I haven’t even seen Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow yet. Sheesh.

I’m a fan of “Scrubs”. I like the humor on it, and the characters, for all their faults, are likeable and fun to watch. Zach Braff has done a really good job leading the cast, and plays the “loveable dork” very well. With Garden State, a film he wrote, directed, and stars in, he breaks from that mold. Here he plays Andrew, a struggling actor who returns to New Jersey for his mother’s funeral. He has a strained relationship with his father. His friends are stuck in dead end jobs. Then he meets Sam (Natalie Portman), a girl who has problems of her own. In the days that ensue, the two of them go on a small journey through life, discovering things about themselves that they hadn’t. That’s a horrible way to sum-up this film, since it’s not the type of movie that can be described in a few sentences. It has no real plot; it feels like a free-form journey of exploration than anything else.

The acting is really good; the dialogue is solid. There are funny moments throughout, but it’s not a comedy. It’s more like a Wes Anderson movie, without the weirdness. It’s really well shot, and it’s even in scope! (Very rare for a movie that cost $2.5 million to make.) The songs are really well placed, too. Overall, this was a movie that, when it ended, I felt like I could easily go see again. In fact, it’s probably an indication I’ll get the DVD. It’s still in somewhat limited release, but shouldn’t be too hard to find at a theater near you. Definitely go check it out, and if you’re lucky, you’ll only see one Jude Law trailer.