(Originally published in Rocky Mountain Bullhorn)
In Zach Braff’s sincere Garden State, depressed, heavily medicated L.A. actor Andrew Largeman (Braff) returns to New Jersey to attend his mother’s funeral and winds up embarking on a four-day journey of self-discovery in which he parties with his grave-digging childhood friend (Peter Sarsgaard), falls in love with an idiosyncratic epileptic girl (an adorable Natalie Portman), and confronts his pill-pushing psychiatrist Dad (Ian Holm). For its first half, Braff’s ode to mid-20’s aimlessness boasts a sweet, moody rhythm, capturing the tumultuous frustration born from not knowing how or where one fits into the world. Yet by the time Largeman and his two cohorts find spiritual release by screaming into a mysterious, bottomless Jersey abyss (symbolism alert!), the amiable Garden State – by overusing pop songs to underline every emotional scene and having characters, especially during the limply clichéd climactic ten minutes, articulate the obvious – has withered as a result of overexposure to over-exposition.