How do you complement Garden State without sounding like an arrogant phony? This self-centered navel-gazer paved the way for a number of knock-off twenty-something movies with characters who griped over how their lives were meaningless while standing at the apex of youth and privilege. It is the ‘X’ in ‘Generation X’, bursting with ineffable malaise over a life gone perfectly well.
And yet Garden State is a great movie. Zach Braff’s character, Andrew Largeman, is zoned out: a product of an over-medicated generation. Natalie Portman’s Sam plays the manic pixie dream girl that will shock him out of it with her goofy antics. In the hands of a lesser director, these characters and situations would fall flat. But Braff sees us through, and exposes Largeman’s anxieties in a way that’s neither contrite, nor exploitative. He can hardly be blamed for copycat movies would fail time and again to successfully mock the insecurities that Braff knows so well.
Tiffany Begin-Stearns and I forget to eat our sno-caps. We get too busy digging out little details and exploring the meaning of home. Ah well. Don’t be like us. Go fetch a box of sno-caps, crack it open, and indulge in some Garden State.