Garden State

Bomb Rating: 

There's nothing new about "Garden State," and films consisting of pretty much the same message have been produced over and over again like failed sitcoms since the popularization of independent cinema (and likely well before that). Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) returns to New Jersey for his mother's funeral in a Zoloft haze and in a state of inertia that would make the characters in "Seinfeld" green with envy.

Largeman's problems aren't really all that significant, but by virtue of their being THE problems of whatever generation Braff belongs to, their importance is magnified by about a thousand, as if the mere act of stopping the digestion of mood-altering drugs was as difficult as finding work during the Depression. Largeman is going nowhere and neither are any of his friends, including Mark (Peter Sarsgaard) who just smokes weed and another friend who sold a patent for millions of dollars, yet seems as directionless as everyone else.

Thankfully, the trip allows Largeman to meet the love of his life in Sam (Natalie Portman), who's just so damn cute you want to sandwich one of your arms between two theater seats and break it off just so the nirvana will stop. Of course, Sam has her own problems, another "my future is so murky" meltdown that involves epilepsy, ice skating and ADD.

As writer/director, Braff loses his way toward the end when the movie curiously becomes some kind of strange road picture as Sam and Largeman go with Mark to find something. It's precisely when characters like these get lost or seem lost that they miraculously find themselves. Personally, I was glad I found the exit.

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