If you’ve been coming here for any amount of time, you’ll know that I’m crazy for zombie movies, especially Shaun of the Dead, as of late. Shaun had me as excited as a schoolboy from the first time I’d heard of it (I am a huge fan of Spaced so I had high hopes) and it delivered in every area I had hoped. Well, that little preamble was just trying to give you an idea of how excited my wife was when she first heard of Garden State. She was a fan of NBC’s Scrubs and was intrigued by the idea that it’s main star, Zach Braff, could do a dramatic role. She googled the movie, she ate up all the articles she could find on the movie. She was ready for it to come out in July 30th. Unfortunately, (as was the case with Shaun in September) this highly advertised date was the “limited release”. Our son was due on the 27th of August so we were cutting it really close as far as movies go. The wide release, on August 20th, was when we were able to see it. The initial theatrical viewing was pretty powerful and it was everything that she wanted it to be. She was happy for the next week, like “high on life” happy.
The DVD release of this film was this past Tuesday, the 28th of December. Just as I was stoked to buy Shaun on DVD, the wife was stoked for this one. She bought it and left it unopened for the week, so we could watch it with friends during a New Years Eve bash for baby-laden families. Needless to say, we didn’t get around to watching it but today we just finished it. It was just as good as I remembered it being.
The movie is about Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff), or “Large” as his nickname is. He has returned home to New Jersey from a 9 year hiatus for his mother’s funeral. Several issues in his life have left him chemically dependent on “various forms of Lithium”, as he puts it. He is drug-free and attempting to sort out his life, when he meets Sam (Natalie Portman), a free-spirited girl who happens to be a chronic liar and has several issues of her own.
During his stay, he meets up with several friends from high school as well, most prominently Mark (Peter Saarsgard), a thieving grave digger, who enjoys smoking weed and living an unimpressive life because it helps him sleep better at night. Another friend has invented “silent Velcro” and is now living off the royalties from his invention.
One of my favorite dialogues is between Sam and Large, discussing the fact that you can’t go home again and once you’ve left the fold things are never the same. Here’s the actual dialogue;
“You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some place where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone….”
“You’ll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day one day and it’s just gone. And you can never get it back. It’s like you get homesick for a place that doesn’t exist. I mean it’s like this right of passage, you know. You won’t have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for you kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.”
With an absolutely hilarious cameo by Method Man (“Raise your hand if you just saw some titties!”), and some beautiful music, this movie is definitely one to own, to watch repeatedly, to tell all your friends about. Zach Braff wrote, directed, AND stars in it and he does all three with impeccable ability.