Large's Ark
Garden State
Review by Ross Anthony

Here's a quirky little movie with a good heart. Delighting in the odd, extraordinary, and eccentric little pastimes or habits that make ordinary people unique -- "Garden State" serves up a curious allegory of hope.

In "Large" part, this film feels like a "Harold and Maude" updated. Not that it's a copy or necessarily a tribute, rather more sort of an original film that plays a great deal of homage, respect to that 70's cult film. And I say, kudos to that. The film world could use a lot more films with this kind of spirit.

Excellent dialogue, wonderful story, good performance by Braff (who also writes and directs). Though she certainly takes her time entering into the film (in fact, I was wondering if I was at the wrong picture), Natalie Portman eventually shows up, and not just for a cameo. This actress has impressed me before. And let me just interject, Natalie Portman is one of the great actresses of our time. Period. Her performance here is consistent with her ability to be her character. Though worthy of a nomination, she, as the film itself, doesn't indulge in syrupy soliloquies. The film has a lot to say, but is careful to more often than not -- understate.

With all that going for it, you'd think I'd be shouting A+, I'm not. That's because while Braff is good, he isn't awesome (and he is the focus of the film). Still, I'd be shouting A (which is pretty darned good). However, the extended resolution wanes. For some reason it contains less of the quirky energy that runs the film. And since I generally prefer films to end stronger, I'm dropping that A to an A-. That said, this is still a film I recommend.

(This film screened at a Laemmle Theatre.)

  • Garden State. Copyright © 2004. Rated R. 112mins.
  • Starring Zach Braff, Ian Holm, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Jean Smart, Jim Parsons, and Ron Liebman ad Dr. Cohen.
  • Directed by Zach Braff.
  • Screenplay by Zach Braff.
  • Produced by Gary Gilbert, Dan Halsted, Pamela Abdy, Richard Klubeck at Camelot Pictures and Jersey Films

Grade..........................A- (3/4)

Copyright © 1998-2023 Ross Anthony, Author - Speaker - Solo World Circumnavigator In addition to reviewing films and interviewing celebs at, traveling the world, composing great music, motivational speaking, Mr. Anthony also runs his own publishing company in the Los Angeles area. While traversing the circumference of the planet writing books and shooting documentaries, Mr. Anthony has taught, presented for, worked &/or played with locals in over 30 countries & 100 cities (Nairobi to Nagasaki). He's bungee-jumped from a bridge near Victoria Falls, wrestled with lions in Zimbabwe, crashed a Vespa off a high mountain road in Taiwan, and ridden a dirt bike across the States (Washington State to Washington DC). To get signed books ("Rodney Appleseed" to "Jinshirou") or schedule Ross to speak check out: or call 1-800-767-7186. Go into the world and inspire the people you meet with your love, kindness, and whatever it is you're really good at. Check out books by Ross Anthony. Rand() functions, Pho chicken soup, rollerblading, and frozen yogurt (w/ blueberries) also rock! (Btw, rand is short for random. It can also stand for "Really Awkward Nutty Dinosaurs" -- which is quite rand, isn't it?) Being alive is the miracle. Special thanks to Ken Kocanda, HAL, Jodie Keszek, Don Haderlein, Mom and Pops, my family, R. Foss, and many others by Ross Anthony. Galati-FE also deserves a shout out. And thanks to all of you for your interest and optimism. Enjoy great films, read stirring novels, grow.

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:09:52 PDT