ABC Film Challenge – Favourites – G – Garden State (2004) Movie Review

Director: Zach Braff

Writer: Zach Braff (Screenplay)

Starring: Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Ian Holm

Plot: A quietly troubled young man returns home for his mother’s funeral after being estranged from his family for a decade.

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Verdict: Nice Serious Comedy

Story: Garden State starts when aspiring actor Andrew Largeman (Braff) must return home after the death of his mother, he is estranged from his father Gideon (Holm) and gets to catch up with old friends Mark (Sarsgaard) and Jesse (Riesco).

Andrew finds himself feeling out of place in his old town until he meets Sam (Portman) who makes him fit in and gives him more motivation to make the most out of his life.

Thoughts on Garden State

Characters – Andrew Largeman hasn’t always had the best life in his search for fame, he has had one role but is stuck being a waiter, seeing his life go to waste, his mother passes away which sees him return home for the funeral, where he still doesn’t fit in until he meets Sam, someone he can relate to in life. Sam is a girl that Andrew meets in town, she is a compulsive liar but her character shines through to help Andrew rediscover his happiness after the death he couldn’t find a way to grieve. Mark is one of the old friends that shows Andrew around town, brings him to the parties, even if the tension between the two can often cause the problems, even if his heart is in the right place. Gideon is the father of Andrew who has always put his son down, trying to use his own psychology to analyse him in life.

PerformancesZach Braff in the leading role brings his ever enjoyable style of comedy to the front here, which sees him not only shine in the leading role, but behind the camera too. Natalie Portman is great to see in such a positive happy role, seeming to be so natural in how her character acts. The rest of the cast are fun to watch through the film they each bring something different to the characters Andrew meets through his time in his town.

StoryThe story here follows a young man whose career hasn’t gone to plan that must return home after a family death, only to need to find himself more in life than he had ever imagined. This is a story about dealing with loss, finding direction and understand things don’t always have to go to plan in life for them to be good. We get to see how memory lane can have things painted out differently and you can always outgrow the people around you. With a moving tone to everything that does try to bring everything back down to normality in life rather than making anyone seem like an over the top character.

Comedy/RomanceThe comedy in the film works very well, it will get laughs without being set up jokes, mostly reaction to what is going on, while the romance shows that you could find love in someone you might never though you would meet.

SettingsThe film uses the small town setting to show how well the community can come together for grief and how life shows people how far they could have come.


Scene of the Movie – The arrow scene.

That Moment That Annoyed Me – The search for drugs doesn’t need to be here.

Final Thoughts This is an enjoyable comedy that shows us just how important life can be and how you can find direction when you least expect it.

Overall: Enjoyable

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