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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Get a Life

Garden State (2004) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Twenty-six-year-old L.A. actor Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) was ham­strung in his youth (“a hand­ful of normal kid things I kinda missed”) by his psychia­trist dad (Ian Holm) who medicated him for acting the way boys do and then sent him away to academy for his final high school years. His best auditions now are for handi­capped roles, and indeed he has achieved face recognition playing a retarded quarter­back in a TV movie. The real clincher, though, is his self-handi­cap in his day job. He's an occidental waiter in an oriental restaurant, which confuses his customers who try to order American side dishes not on the menu. There goes his tip.

One day he receives a phone call out of the blue from his estranged father inviting him home for his accident-prone mother's funeral—she slipped in the tub. He leaves his meds behind. An appointment with a neurologist in his dad's building determines he's not sick and doesn't need medication. Further­more, the movie meds work out of his system right away. He meets another patient there Samantha (Natalie Portman) who has the opposite problem. She has epilepsy, which she hides, though having to wear a protective helmet in the law office where she works is a dead give­away. She is happy to accept a ride home on Andrew's motor­cycle, which provides an alternate explanation for wearing the helmet. They hang out together.

boy diving off boardAndrew connects up with old classmates who have gone on to adult jobs, interests, and responsi­bilities. When they all dive into the adult end of the pool, Andrew demurs and ends up floundering in the shallows. Sam wades over to keep him company.


The word random appears several times in dialogue, and the film itself is a pattern of events not discern­able in advance. It some­what follows the land, sea & air motif of, (Prov. 30:18-19) “There be three things which are too wonder­ful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.” First, “the way of an eagle in the air” is represented on a visit to the home grounds of Jesse (Armando Riesco) when he shoots a flaming arrow straight up into the air, and the folks down below must dodge its return path. Sam decides they should leave right away. It's too dangerous. There was also shown a news story on the TV where a car came to grief stalled on the rail­road tracks. And there's Samantha's poor dead hamster Jelly. She explains to Andrew, “We happened to get the only hamsters on earth who can't figure out a hamster wheel.” They forgot to remove the wheel from Jelly's cage. Poor Jelly. Some pets and people don't do well around machinery, and perhaps there were too many trip hazards in the way of Andrew's mom.

“The way of a serpent upon a rock” is represented by the travel of a bottle on the floor. At a party a game of spin-the-bottle got under­way while Andrew the sap was day­dreaming on the couch. He emerged from his reverie to a silent room with every­body looking at him. They said they were playing spin-the-bottle, and he asked who's up? “You are.” And this hot babe who had her eye on him comes over and plants one on him. Some­times a person gets lucky.

wildebeest“The way of a ship in the midst of the sea” is represented in a nature documentary, briefly glimpsed on the TV, where a seemingly harmless piece of drift­wood rises up a mouth­ful of teeth to snack on Bambi who'd been quenching her thirst in the placid water. We also get to see a tape of Sam ice skating in an alligator costume. That was before her epilepsy seizures started happening. A sufferer never knows when they will disrupt her peaceful routine.

Finally, “the way of a man with a maid” we find in Samantha & Andrew falling in love with each other over the four days of Andrew's stay. We hardly know what to make of it, and it seemed to have taken them by surprise, as well.

Production Values

” (2004) was written and directed by its lead Zach Braff. It stars Zach Braff, Peter Sarsgaard, and Natalie Portman. The acting was okay as far as it went, and Portman was a real find. This was Braff's first run at directing so we should cut him some slack. Arthur-the-dog was played by a canine named Ice who performed on cue, but keep it away from me. Magoo too.

MPAA rated it R for language, drug use and a scene of sexuality. I've heard worse language, it was a veritable garden of drugs, and the sexuality wasn't as revealing as it might have been. Original music was by Chad Fischer.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This was a delightful little movie if a little bit predictable. It's a cut above other similar indie films. It would make a good date movie as the emerging couple don't take them­selves very seriously.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: No action, subdued adventure. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.