I was a Kickstarter backer on this project. I was a fan of Garden State, and as a crowd-funder myself I wanted to follow the campaign. One of my perks was to get an advanced screening of the film, so that’s how you’re hearing from me early.
I have to be honest. I didn’t love it. Some other reviews have said “it was good enough to make you wish that it was better” and I think that’s fair. Another review that said it’s “Phony, shallow, and completely disconnected from reality. To make matters worse, it thinks it’s sincere, deep, and realistic.” and while that’s pretty harsh - I can’t disagree. There’s so many lines in this that feel like it’s really clever, but no one would ever talk like that let alone consistently always have the perfect thing to say at the exact perfect moment. At times it feels like we’re watching a marathon of clever ideas that Zach Braff had and how he wedged them all together. And wedging isn’t far off - there’s so many things going on here that look like they’re there for the sake of the visuals than anything else.
I read somewhere that Braff spent years trying to get this film made within the system and couldn’t get it done - which seeing the end product, it doesn’t surprise me. The last thing I wanted to do was crap on this film, but I can’t honestly endorse it. I like what he’s trying to accomplish - it’s a film about the difficulty of being a parent, so there’s things here that I dig, but as a whole - it’s messy. And it’s hard to care about a hero who puts himself ahead of his family and tries to use his dream as a defense. A lot of us find a way to do both.
The highlights are Mandy Patinkin and the soundtrack - which is worth buying for sure - though it feels clumsy with how it’s used in the film, especially compared to how well the music was used in Garden State.
So if you were obsessed with Garden State than you’re going to see this anyway. If you don’t dig Zach Braff to begin with, this likely won’t help. Please do check it out for yourself though - I’d be happy to be in the minority when it comes to disliking something.