Garden State is Still my Favorite

Out of character for myself, I’ve watched a lot of movies lately. Now that all the Oscar winners are out on DVD, I’ve been catching up on a lot of movies that I neglected while they were in the theater. You probably read my review of Zero Dark Thirty, which was an excellent movie. This past weekend, I finally got around to watching Argo, which was another incredible movie. Way to get all historical this year, Hollywood. I’m impressed! The Academy must have had a hard time deciding between Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, and Lincoln. To be honest, I’m not even sure how Silver Linings Playbook was thrown into that mix. It was nowhere near as good as any of the others. Let’s be serious here. I actually did see Silver Linings Playbook in the theater, but I walked out several times due to boredom, despite the fact that Robert De Niro is one of my most favorite actors (Casino may actually be the best movie ever made).

All of the above mentioned movies are absolutely fantastic. They each deserved all the accolades that were awarded to those who were responsible for making them happen. I will not argue with the choice of Argo as best picture, though I do think that Zero Dark Thirty must have given it a run for its money. With that said, I  have to come back and talk about one of my all-time favorites, Garden State.

Call me silly or lacking in taste, but I really love that movie.

Garden State (photo from Wikipedia)
Garden State (photo from Wikipedia)

I’ve never been the type of person to claim any real expertise on movies. Frankly, my taste in films is nowhere near mainstream. This may be a good thing, as mainstream movies tend to be chock full of mindless entertainment and lacking in substance or talent. (Ok, that’s my opinion.) Garden State has just always been one of those movies that stuck with me. I find it to be full of substance and lacking in silly entertainment. I can watch it over and over and my opinion never changes. It really is that good. But how could a little obscure movie written and directed by Zach Braff really be that special? It just is, people. It really is a good film.

I think what hooked me initially to Garden State is Braff’s subtle humor and the ironies of life that he captures in each scene. This movie is like one big awkward moment. Isn’t that life?  At least in your 20s it is. Braff’s character realizes at the age of 26 that he has been floating through life, and he has been numb to anything that should provoke a feeling. He decides for himself that this is his life, and it’s short, so he has to live it now; live in the moment and embrace the good and the bad. The way that he shows this in the movie is so real. He is such a real character. There are no gooey love scenes or over-exaggerated epiphanies. The character he wrote and plays is a real human being, and that is why I appreciate the film. Art imitates life and vice versa. No special effects and no porno sex, and it is ever more enjoyable.

Sometimes the best films are the most simple. Sometimes the simplest films portray the most complex life principles. And sometimes the most complex life principles create the most humor in our lives. Garden State shows us this in film form.

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