Scrubs is a great comedy. It’s no Kids in the Hall, but it is a fun way to spend half an hour. But as a proving ground for burgeoning directorial talent it was untested until its star Zach Braff walked out from behind the camera and created Garden State.
Zach Braff stars as a wannabe actor who is stumbling through life in a lithium-induced haze trying to make it in Los Angeles. When his mother dies in New Jersey, he is forced to return home after nine years. Back in his childhood home, he finds his world strangely unchanged, except everyone is older. Reality becomes even starker when he decides to stop taking the mood stabilizers. He meets his quirky love interest, Natalie Portman, and the film slowly becomes a non-cloying romance between the two off-beat characters.
The movie is a bit uneven, but stellar performances by Braff and Portman and confident direction by the newbie director, the film delivers as a sweet and funny dramatic comedy. Lending their support and considerable acting skills to the film are Peter Sarsgaard, who plays a grave-robbing friend, and the always incredible Ian Holm as Braff’s father.
The film also catapulted the Portland, Ore., indie band, The Shins, into mainstream popularity. While some of their fans may not have appreciated the attention heaped on the band after the film, it would have been hard for moviegoers to overlook the accessible and poppy tunes, since the music plays a central part of the movie. Also, it’s just great music:
Garden State airs on IFC at 8 p.m. ET