Garden State

Zach Braff

BY Cam LindsayPublished Dec 1, 2004

Known to most as J.D., the silly sissy with a PhD on the hit TV show Scrubs, Zach Braff tasted silver screen success with his widely accepted dramedy debut earlier this year. Garden State is a very likeable indie film that takes an often clichéd coming of age narrative and spins it with many eccentricities and a super-hip soundtrack to give it that extra charm. Struggling actor Andrew "Large" Largeman (Braff) makes his first trip home to New Jersey after nine years when his mother passes away. The relationship with his father/psychiatrist (Ian Holm) is practically nonexistent, thanks to the heavy medication his father forced on him after an accident during Large's youth. He reconnects with some old friends, primarily the burnt out Mark (Peter Saarsgard) and becomes rejuvenated when he stumbles upon Sam (Natalie Portman), a curious girl he quickly falls for. Occurring over a mere few days, Large's problems seem to dissipate, but Braff has ensured that his film doesn't close with the typical carefree Hollywood ending. It's obvious that he also set out to make this DVD the complete package because he serves up an abundance of special features that are nearly too much to enjoy in one sitting. There are two commentaries, one with Braff and Portman, and another with Braff and the gang of producers, but the former is far more enjoyable. Braff and Portman continue their magnetic yet goofy chemistry (especially when the romantic scenes appear) and as a first-time director, Braff comes off as an extremely proud father. He's very candid about who each actor is, answers all of Portman's delightful questions and goes to great detail to explain how and where he shot each scene. The deleted scenes are plentiful and almost excessive, with Braff describing how difficult it was to cut each one from his film. The outtakes and bloopers are genuinely funny, especially with the German Shepherd humping scene, and the "making of" featurette is nearly 30 minutes of in-depth behind the scenes footage. (Fox Searchlight/Miramax)

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