People keep asking me why I think Garden State literally changed my life, and I suppose I owe an explanation. This movie is terrible, it’s really bad, you guys. It seems to have been written by a 13-year old imagining what it’s like to be 29.
Zach Braff is unsettlingly passive even in the scenes in which he’s meant to move you by having been moved. Natalie Portman is not reasonable as a person in any universe and would never survive life on earth for this long even with that dumb helmet.
The whole part about the hamster house made me want to murder my television.
So why do people like it so much? So many of my friends were seriously moved by it, like moved to tears, moved to buy a Shins album, moved to be quirky, moved to appreciate other people being quirky.
The film is so heavy-handed that it’s hard to look away. Each scene tells you how you’re supposed to feel about it: “Listen to this song, it’ll change your life!” Well of course it will if you just told me it will, life changed. That doesn’t really MEAN anything though. The screaming into the abyss is laughably vanilla for a scene meant to inspire. The soundtrack is lovely but has come to just sound hokey and silly for how inappropriately revered it was. The whole movie just feels like an excuse to get sad for people who want to be sad because it’s hip but have no sadness from which to draw the behaviors.
As someone who has plenty of reason to be sad (for example, looking at my parents every day who were told when I was born that I likely wouldn’t live past 12 and realizing that they’re holding their breaths hoping every day that I last another year), a Shins song or screaming into an abyss or finding love is not that monumental.
It’s a fine movie, unremarkable at best. But people LOVE IT. It changed people’s lives. Better than cleaning carpets in Alabama, at least.
And in realizing that unremarkable work can change the lives of people who want life changes was the real reward of acknowledging this movie.
That said: The Only Living Boy in New York sounds cheap and manipulative now.