Top 20% of all time (see others with this rank)
2004 (click here to see all competition films from this year)
Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Ian Holm, Jean Smart, Rob Liebman
Zach Braff, Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, Pamela Abdy, Richard Klubeck, Gary Gilbert, Dan Halsted
Garden State is the kind of quirky romantic comedy that used to be a staple of Hollywood. Masters of the form reinvented them for each new generation, giving them a specificity and relevance that audiences embraced, e.g., Harold and Maude and The Graduate. And without overstating things, Garden State makes an excellent case for writer/director/actor Zach Braff evolving into the Woody Allen of his time. Needless to say, Garden State is clever. But it�s the honesty, self�deprecation, and imagination of this study of a young man�s search for himself that place it above the pedestrian reach of Braff�a peers.
The story begins when Andrew Largeman returns to his hometown for the funeral of his clinically depressed mother, a journey that reconnects him with some of his past friends. Because the trip coincides with his decision to stop taking his powerful antidepressants, he also begins to reconnect with himself. A chance meeting with Sam (Natalie Portman), a girl also suffering from various maladies, opens up the possibility of rekindling emotional attachments, confronting his psychologist father, and perhaps beginning a new life.
Comedy is hard to pull off, Only the exceptionally talented can prompt laughter while also provoking those deep feelings within us for the human frailty on the screen. Garden Stare is that kind of rare film.
Geoffrey Gilmore (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)