When I saw Team America: World Police my brother asked me if it was as good as South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. I told him that I couldn’t tell based on a single viewing, but we agreed that if it was even possible that I couldn’t tell then it must have been pretty close. I could say something similar about Garden State. I’m not going to tell you it’s the best thing Zach Braff has ever done, but I’m not going to tell you that it’s not. It is, however, the best thing Natalie Portman has done.
It’s not often that you can sit watching a film, completely engrossed but also completely unable to see what’s going to happen. I don’t mean that in the sense of a thriller where you don’t know where the bomb is hidden; or a mystery where you don’t know whodunnit. I mean it in the sense of watching someone tell a story and becoming aware that you’ve never seen this one before.
I usually watch films with some detatchment; I notice acting, directing, music. I often judge the quality of a movie based on its ability to make me forget about those things. While in retrospect I’m able to praise Braff’s and Portman’s performances, and Braff’s writing and directing, I think it’s most telling to simply say that I didn’t spend two hours watching Dr John Dorian and Padmé Amidala. Instead I watched Andrew Largeman and Sam, and I enjoyed the experience far more for that.
Zach Braff has a future when Scrubs is over. Natalie Portman has pre-emptively earned my forgiveness for Revenge of the Sith.