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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Garden State (2004)

Andrew: This hurts so much.
Sam: I know it hurts. But it's life, and it's real. And sometimes it hurts, but it's life, and it's pretty much all we got.

- Zach Braff, Natalie Portman

Review By: Kevin Clemons  
Published: December 27, 2004

Stars: Zach Braff, Natalie Portman
Other Stars: Peter Sarsgaard, Ian Holm, Method Man, Jean Smart
Director: Zach Braff

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: R for language, drug use, and a scene of sexuality
Run Time: 01h:49m:16s
Release Date: December 28, 2004
UPC: 024543155881
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ AAA- A-

DVD Review

Zach Braff's Garden State is truly, simply, a masterpiece. The film represents Braff's first turn behind the camera as well as a screenwriter and, in each regard, he is a stunning surprise. Already well known for his work on the television series Scrubs, Braff has made a film that is filled with humor, piercing emotion, and energy.

Andrew "Large" Largeman (Braff) is a struggling actor living in Los Angeles, far from his hometown in New Jersey. As the film opens we see Andrew isolated in his apartment, listening to an answering machine message from his father informing him that his mother—a paraplegic—has passed away. Since his mother's accident, Andrew has been medicated by his psychiatrist father and consistently walks through life in a fog. As he heads back to New Jersey, he stops taking his medication and allows himself to feel emotion for the first time in a very long while.

While home, Andrew runs into old friends including Mark (Sarsgaard), a friend from high school who is now a gravedigger. He also meets a new acquaintance in Sam (Portman) when he bumps into her in a neurologist's office. She is everything he isn't: lively, vibrant, and willing to take life as it comes. Through her, Andrew begins to enjoy life again and is finally able to come to terms with his father.

There are a handful of films that define a generation. For my parents it was The Graduate, and now, for me, it is Garden State. In my opinion, no other filmmaker has crafted the way it feels to be in your twenties and uncertain where your life will take you. Braff peppers Large's journey with so many interesting and involving characters and situations that, in some ways, turn the coming-of-age film inside-out.

Furthermore, the film feels "real." Braff and cinematographer Lawrence Sher craft shots that are astonishingly beautiful and original. Also, the script wonderfully develops its characters with Large, Sam, and Mark becoming familiar within a short amount of time. Most importantly, the three have chemistry and their day spent together late in the film gives the story its most important elements. For the most part, Braff keeps things simple, with no grand overtures orgratuitous revelations by his main characters.

In so many ways, Garden State is a perfect film. Braff's choice of music is perfect; each and every song is terrific and works wonderfully in the scene in which it is used.

I am an unabashed fan of this film, and it's one I can watch again and again. It is a heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully crafted tale about figuring out life while you meander through it. Flawless.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Shot on a low budget, Garden State looks beautiful. The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer is pristine with the bright greens and stark tones looking great. There is no bleeding while the black levels show no grain and have great shadow detail. Sharpness and detail are well done, with some of the darker scenes coming off with great depth and detail. The print used is in great condition with no damage and edge enhancement is never an issue.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for Garden State does a good job of reproducing this dialogue-driven film, and crisp, clear, and has no distortion. The surround speakers are occasionally put to use with the soundtrack and ambient sounds.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
16 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by writer/director/actor Zach Braff, actress Natalie Portman, production designer Judy Becker, editor Myron kerstein, and cinematographer Lawrence Sher
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Outtakes
Extras Review: Two audio commentary tracks are included on the disc, the first featuring Zach Braff and Natalie Portman, the second with Braff, cinematographer Lawrence Sher, editor Myron Kerstein, and production designer Judy Becker. The first track is a breezy listen that Braff mostly dominates while Portman chimes in from time to time with a few interesting tidbits. Braff offers up a lot of small information about why certain scenes are included and how others came about. It is a fun track that is worth a listen. The second track is far more technical and is a tad more entertaining.

Sixteen deleted/extended scenes are also included. The technical commentary participants also offer their thoughts on the scenes here. A collection of outtakes and a soundtrack spot are also offered.

Finally, a 28-minute "making-of" is a nice look at the production of the film and offers insight into how some of the more memorable locations and shots were created.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

They say everyone has their film, one that connects with them on more than a level of entertainment, for me that film is Garden State. I think this movie is a masterpiece, a beautiful and powerful film. This is the best film of 2004, bar none. Highly recommended.

 


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