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Movie Log: Don't Miss 'Garden State'

Nov. 27, 2004 – Despite the arctic air in theater No. 6, I stuck it out last night to see critically acclaimed "Garden State." And it was worth every frost-bitten moment. Full of zany, truly funny moments, the film written and directed by Zach Braff, who also plays the lead, is a breath of fresh air in the romantic comedy genre. No huge budget, no fancy clothes, no unrealistic suspension of disbelief – just real people living somewhat sloppy lives trying to get by and find meaning.
The clever, well-written script kept me belly-laughing throughout.
Braff, playing Andrew Largeman, a "medicated" 26-year-old, decides to give up the medications he had been prescribed by his psychiatrist father, played skillfully by Ian Holm, when he was nine-years-old. The occasion for his decision to give up the pills is the death of his paraplegic mother and his subsequent return to New Jersey from L.A. after a nine-year absence.
Andrew, known as "Large" by his old high school friends hooks up with them at a wild party where on "e" they play an ecstasy version of spin the bottle.
But I digress.
Andrew's life takes an unexpected turn when he meets up with Sam, played by Natalie Portman – an admitted liar and quirky epileptic. With the absence of his mood controlling drugs Andrew begins to emerge as a feeling human being for the first time in 17 years, but in a non dramatic, non effusive way.
As Andrew and Sam walk down the path to falling in love they are accompanied by a couple of Andrew's old friends – Mark, played by Peter Sarsgaard and Albert, played by Denis O'Hare. Mark is a pot-smoking gravedigger who plans for his future by investing in Desert Storm cards and Andrew has fallen into a vast fortune by inventing noiseless Velcro.
"Garden State" is one of those small, sharp-witted films that I am so glad I didn't miss – kind of like "Wonder Boys."
The film is accompanied by a great sound track full of music I have never heard before, including an old Paul Simon piece. I plan to buy it.
So, take your winter clothes out of mothballs, pull a blanket off the shelf and get out to Caribbean Cinemas this weekend to catch this delightfully witty, new-age romantic comedy. As it is a non-block buster, it's unlikely to make the cut next week.

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