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Garden State (2004), Zach Braff, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Monday, December 25th, 2006


There’s nothing in this movie that delivers quite what is advertised in the image posted above. It is a spectacular image and it is shoehorned into the film (early, thankfully) simply because it is spectacular, even though it serves no purpose story-wise. But tone is good for a movie, right? But not if said tone is the only thing driving your movie. If your conflicts are tired and your characters are phoned-in, then when you cut to a groovy shirt/wallpaper shot (or fade up an emotional Simon & Garfunkel song only to fade it down six seconds later) the tone will actually detract from your film. And you wind up feeling cheated. There are plenty of great love stories with emotionally disturbed characters. This isn’t one of them.


  1. When we saw this in the theater, about 2/3 of the way through it the movie sound stopped, and was replaced by the crappy music they play before the previews start. It took everyone about ten minutes to realize anything was wrong.

    Comment by rozger — December 26, 2006 @ 11:40 pm

  2. I hated this movie with passion. A blog entry I made back in the summer denotes why:

    A movie like Garden State, replete with its hip indie rock soundtrack, perfectly underlines the division I sense between pop and country. I rented the movie on DVD two days after my father died. And short of putting my foot through the TV screen, let’s just say I thought the movie was a load of twentysomething, navel-gazing shit. A shiftless, guy in his early 20s with mental problems meanders home to New Jersey when his mother dies. The movie’s about how he deals with his mother’s passing? No. It’s about this weird little twerp falling in love with a future mental patient, while he pals around with a hometown friend who is literally a ghoul with his gravedigging job that finds him robbing corpses. That’s cool? That’s zany, funny, hip stuff? I just put my fucking father in the ground. You put a parent in the ground, the thoughts and emotions centered around that act dominate every second of your life for days, in my case months, on end. Every inch of that movie felt like a lie. It still does. It had nothing to do with the stark reality of a parent’s death that I’d just experienced. That guy’s dead mother was just a morbid after-thought to his self-realization hijinx. Real life aint like that — unless you have no heart.

    The pop music in Garden State drove home the self absorption and shallowness. A lot of pop music, while pretty and fun to listen to (I do it all the time), is basically heartless. Or more to the point, the people writing and singing the songs haven’t lived enough to convey any real depth of emotion in their art. The music tends to be excellent. But they play at being heavy, or cynical. Hell, I did the same. But I grew out of it, or more specifically had life beat it out of me. That’s what life does when you live long enough.

    Comment by Bill R — December 28, 2006 @ 7:06 am

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