About a week ago, I decided to re watch the beloved indie flick Garden State. My reasons being are that :
a) the last time I saw it I was 17 years old and can’t remember much from it (seeing how my former young and naive self was too distracted by the prospect of hanging out at an older guy’s apartment.)
b ) I’ve come to seriously adore Zach Braff as an actor.
With that being said, I decided I wanted to acknowledge the reasons behind its status as a critically acclaimed cult movie. Here’s my top 8 reasons why the hype about Garden State is right:
1. Let’s begin with the obvious,it has a catchy soundtrack. For starters, the soundtrack was entirely chosen by Zach Braff and features a compilation of songs that “were scoring his life at the time while he was writing the screenplay” (thank you wiki). Overall, it’s a well rounded mix of songs that features a lot of newcomer indie bands at the time like the shins, snow patrol and frou frou. It also blends electronic into the mix with bands like zero 7 and thievery corporation. Oh, and let’s not forget classic rock! I’m talking about at you , Simon and Garfunkle! The soundtrack is so damn catchy and astutely compiled that it scored a Grammy. Props , Zach!
2.You get to witness Natalie Portman inhabiting the role of a character who has a childlike and quirky demeanor. Before she starred in roles that featured her as a seductive and elegant woman, and was every guy’s movie crush ( no need to deny it!) , she was the innocent and quirky Sam on Gardenstate. Her silly and quirky nature are what makes her stand out in the film and personally speaking is refreshing to watch. For example, she does an impromptu tap dance , blurts out random thoughts in her head during awkward situations, has a baby blanket named “tickle” and isn’t afraid to shed tears and mourn for someone she never knew. All of these quirks makes her so engaging to watch, and it makes you wonder why most films don’t incorporate quirky yet lovable characters like her.
3.Zach changes up his role. From the very beginning of the movie, I was in serious denial of the fact that he wasn’t playing his regular role as JD : the quirky, awkward yet lovable intern on the show scrubs. In Garden State, he does a complete 360 and plays “andrew”, a morose and broody character whose prescription medications of lithium and anti depressants make him feel initially numb from experiencing any emotions. His talents as an actor is showcased by his ability to delve into a completely different role and still manage to convince us that he isn’t JD. (except in one scene.. which I won’t spoil )
4. Zach gets constantly molested by dogs. From the very beginning of the movie to midway in, dogs are drawn to him. Whether it be (for what seemed like) a five minute scene of a german shepard mounting his leg while he awkwardly lay sitting down in a chair or two large doberman jumping on him in a aggressive yet affectionate manner, there’s no doubt in mind, the canine’s got much lovin’ towards him.
5. The movie focuses on the struggles that manifest for some people in their mid to early 20s . Not all of us have our futures set and defined. Instead, some of us are at a point in our lives where we still need to figure ourselves out, and in the process, we need to seize the moment! Themes of alienation, loss of identity and love are presented in the movie conveying the underlying message that it’s better not to numb yourself from life but rather to experience life to the fullest because it’s the only way you’ll find yourself in this chaotic world. Whether it be screaming at the top of your lungs in synchrony with your friends in the pouring rain or ice skating in an alligator costume, do whatever makes you feel alive!
6.It features random and eccentric characters which add to the awesomeness of the movie . If you’re an avid fan of the show Scrubs, you know that the humour is very arbitrary and incorporates unprecedented guests and scenario’s. Luckily for Scrubs fans, Garden State has an element of this type of humour that’s reflected by its chosen characters and roles they inhabit. For example, it features none other than Method Man who plays a bellhop of a hotel who engages in porn viewing sessions in hotel rooms. It also features a character (who plays Sam’s adopted African brother) and goes by the exotic (and unpronounceable) name of Tembete( my personal pronunciation of his name probably isn’t spelled correctly) who spends his days making mac and cheese for his sister and dusting off prints on his gamecube because he’s convinced someone “pissed” on it. Big lolz
7. It features a scene with Natalie (Sam) and Zach (Andrew) staring silently and awkwardly at a pug scratching his balls. I don’t know why I love this scene so much. I think it’s extremely effective in terms of making us feel awkward by being spectators to two people silently staring at the act. This awkward scene is a memorable one.
8.It has a character development or as us english lit students like to call it a “Bildungsroman”. All I can say is that the ending doesn’t leave you disappointed, because there’s progress in the character of Andrew. It gives hope for all people lost in their 20’s trying to find their direction in life and makes you want to embrace the prospect of finding someone who’s willing to fight for you or better yet boldly announcing that “they like you so there’s that” . Sappy I know, but true!