Garden State was one of my favorite films when I was in middle school, but as time has passed, so has my love for the film. I have a soft spot for it mainly because of the soundtrack that is filled with songs by The Shins, one of favorite bands of all time. Zach Braff wrote and directed Garden State with very little money and now it is a cult classic.
Braff also stars as our main character Andrew Largeman, an actor who lives in Los Angeles. Early on, he gets a call from his father (Holm) who tells him that his mother has passed away so Andrew gets on a plane and goes back to his hometown in New Jersey for the funeral. Andrew and his father don’t get along at all, so he spends his free time with his old friend Mark (Sarsgaard) and a girl he recently met at the doctor's office named Sam (Portman). Andrew reflects on his own life and has to decide what he wants to do moving forward after feelings start to rise between him and Sam.
Garden State has some really good moments, but overall it feels a bit messy and unsure of its intentions. Braff is a decent writer but not the best at carrying a drama that is asking massive questions about existence. Portman and Sarsgaard are pretty good, but nobody is great. The Shins soundtrack is definitely what has aged the best about the film. I still respect elements of Garden State, but it simply doesn’t hit at times.