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"GARDEN STATE"
(2004) (Zach Braff, Natalie Portman) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy None Heavy *Mild Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Moderate None None None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Extreme Moderate Heavy Heavy Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Comedy: A young man returns to his hometown after an extended absence to attend his mother's funeral and tries to find himself while reconnecting with those from his past, as well getting to know a quirky young woman.
PLOT:
It's been years since Andrew Largeman (ZACH BRAFF) was last home. Best known for portraying a mentally challenged young man in a TV movie but now working as a restaurant waiter, he's been heavily medicated most of his life -- thanks to his psychiatrist father, Gideon Largeman (IAN HOLM) -- to deal with a traumatic past event. He now reluctantly returns home to attend his mother's funeral, but has decided to take a vacation of sorts from his medicinal routine.

He also meets up with former school year friends such as Mark (PETER SARSGAARD), the gravedigger who just buried his mom, and Jesse (ARMANDO RIESCO) who's made a fortune after inventing silent Velcro, while another friend is now a cop. Far more intriguing to him, however, is Samantha (NATALIE PORTMAN), a young and quirky woman he meets at a doctor's office.

The two immediately hit it off and hang out together, discussing any number of topics -- both deep and trivial -- alone and with Mark and others. As Andrew tries to come with grips with the past and his estranged relationship with his father, he contemplates his present and future and how Samantha might fit into it.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Older teens might be interested in it, as might anyone who's a fan of someone in the cast, but most other kids will probably pass.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For language, drug use and a scene of sexuality.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • ZACH BRAFF plays a young and heavily medicated former actor and current restaurant waiter who's still trying to find himself and come to grips with his past, his estranged relationship with his father and the recent death of his mother. He uses some strong profanity, does some drugs, drinks some and may sleep with Samantha.
  • NATALIE PORTMAN plays a quirky young woman with epilepsy who befriends Andrew on his quest of self-discovery. She uses some strong profanity and may sleep with him.
  • PETER SARSGAARD plays one of Andrew's school friends who now works as a gravedigger (and takes personal belongings from the dead), smokes, does drugs and uses strong profanity.
  • IAN HOLM plays Andrew's reserved and estranged father, a psychiatrist who was the first to put his son on heavy medication over what he believed to be anger issues stemming from a family tragedy.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama/light comedy. Profanity consists of at least 50 "f" words, while plenty of other expletives and colorful phrases are uttered.

    Sexually related dialogue is present in various scenes, while people pay a hotel bellhop to watch strangers having sex (we see rear entry intercourse with nudity, sounds and related dialogue). Other sex and fooling around is implied or occurs (including separate hetero and lesbian making out), while various young men and women are seen in their underwear as they jump into and swim around in a pool.

    Various characters smoke or drink, and some do drugs (pot, ecstasy), while other drug and drinking references are made. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while tense family material involves a familial death and an estranged father-son relationship.

    Some imitative behavior (one bit potentially being rather dangerous) occurs, while one scene shows a plane and its passengers under obvious distress and another briefly shows TV footage of a crocodile grabbing its prey.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, we see some flashes of light in the opening scene.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People have drinks in a restaurant.
  • Andrew tells a cop and former friend that the last time he saw the guy, he was doing coke lines off a urinal.
  • People drink at a party. We then see a close-up of someone using a bong and then a full shot of Mark, Andrew and another guy sharing a joint. Mark offers some coke to Arthur who declines it, but then accepts and takes an ecstasy pill from another guy (as do others). More drinking and pill taking then occurs.
  • Mark's mom does a bong hit, as does he a moment later.
  • There's a brief comment about one's drug of choice.
  • Andrew and Sam drink beer in a bar.
  • A person yells, "Let's get f*cked up" (meaning drunk or stoned) before jumping into a pool at night.
  • Andrew, Sam, Mark and another guy drink beer in the latter's home. Later, Sam says that she has a slight buzz, as does Andrew.
  • After watching strangers having sex, a hotel bellhop then says that girls like the one they're watching don't have sex with guys like the one they're seeing unless they're a whore or it's for coke, etc.
  • Andrew thinks that Mark has them on a drug run for "blow" (cocaine), but he's wrong in that assumption.
  • Mark does a bong hit.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • A restaurant patron has a bad attitude toward Andrew who's their waiter.
  • A cop uses a lot of strong profanity after pulling over Andrew for speeding.
  • Sam asks Andrew if he played the "retarded" quarterback in a TV movie (he did) and then asks if he's "retarded" in real life. She then adds that if there were a "retarded" award, he would have won it.
  • Sam tells various white lies.
  • Sam states that she doesn't really believe in God (some viewers might not like that).
  • Mark steals jewelry from a casket that's partially buried (he works as a gravedigger). It's suggested this isn't the first time.
  • Mark jokingly asks if Andrew is gay after a comment is made.
  • Some people talk nonchalantly about who committed suicide from their school.
  • Mark grabs some knives inside a store and then takes them to the return counter for a refund, acting as if he got them but doesn't have a receipt since they were a gift. He then admits to doing this several times with different clerks.
  • We see people who've paid a hotel bellhop to peek through holes in the walls to watch people having sex.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • We see slow motion footage of Andrew looking very calm on a passenger plane where everyone is panicking and being tossed about (as things fall from the overhead bins, etc.) and we hear the pilot yelling out that they're going down and then calling out "Mayday!" This, however, appears to be just a symbolic look at the character's life.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • A cop and former friend of Andrew's pulls out his service handgun to show Andrew.
  • Jesse fires a lit arrow straight up into the sky and then he, Andrew and Sam try to avoid it falling and hitting them (it lands near her and she wants to leave at that moment).
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "What the f*ck, man?" "F*cking crazy," "Shut the f*ck up," "F*cking De Niro and sh*t," "F*ck yes," "F*cking right," "I f*cked him up too," "What the f*ck /is Klingon/are you doing?" "Get the f*ck out of my house before I chop your f*cking head off," "Oh f*ck," "Get the f*ck off him," "Way more f*cked up," "Let's get f*cked up," "Get the f*ck in the pool," "You lucky m*therf*cker," "F*ck off," "F*ck yeah," "I'm gonna f*cking come," "Calm the f*ck down," "Holy sh*t," "Check this sh*t out," "Got the sh*t kicked out of him," "You scared the sh*t out of me," "Sh*tty," "I thought you were a d*ck," "Hey vagina," "Kicking ass," "Balls" (testicles), "Retarded," "Shut up," "I work my ass off," "Kick his balls," "Kick his ass," "It sucks," "Sidecars are for bitches," "Pretty damn random," "Totally freaked out," "I am so lame," "Pissing," "Hell yeah," "Losers," "Ho" (whore), "Blow" (coke) and "Crack whores."
  • We see a gas station pump nozzle still stuck in Andrew's car, apparently after he's accidentally driven off with it still there (he throws it away).
  • A young woman wears a midriff-revealing top.
  • We see that partygoers have written the word "balls" on Andrew's forehead while he was asleep/passed out. Later, we see that they've written slang genitalia terms all over his chest, including one ("small c*ck") with an arrow pointing down toward his covered crotch.
  • Mark's mom has a stud in her nostril.
  • Jesse fires a lit arrow straight up into the sky and then he, Andrew and Sam try to avoid it falling and hitting them (it lands near her and she wants to leave at that moment).
  • Sam wears a midriff-revealing top.
  • Sam makes some noise and does an odd little dance as her part of doing something completely original that no one else has done before in that same spot and time.
  • Mark grabs some knives inside a store and then takes them to the return counter for a refund, acting as if he got them but doesn't have a receipt since they were a gift. He then admits to doing this several times with different clerks.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 50 "f" words (2 used with "mother," 1 used sexually as is the term "laid"), 31 "s" words, 3 slang terms using male genitals ("d*ck," "c*ck" and "c*cksucker -- the last two written), 1 written slang term using female genitals ("p*ssy"), 2 slang terms for breasts ("t*tties"), 5 asses (2 used with "hole"), 1 damn, 1 hell, 4 uses of "Oh my God" and 1 use of "God."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A guy states that he couldn't "get laid" in the past.
  • Some young people play spin the bottle at a party (where drug and alcohol use is occurring among the participants). Two young women kiss during this and then one young woman straddles Andrew's lap as he's seated on a sofa. She passionately kisses him as he squeezes her clothed leg. We then see various quick and sped-up shots of other passionate kissing and fooling around (girls in bikini tops, one straddling a shirtless guy on the floor, etc.).
  • We see that partygoers have written the word "balls" on Andrew's forehead while he was asleep/passed out. Later, we see that they've written slang genitalia terms all over his chest, including one ("small c*ck") with an arrow pointing down toward his covered crotch.
  • Mark's mom says that a younger guy (with whom she may have slept the previous night), speaks in Klingon and that last night he said (in that language), "I like to mate after battle."
  • A large seeing eye dog begins to hump Andrew's leg in a waiting room, prompting Sam to laugh about that. She tells him to kick the dog in the "balls" to make him stop, but Andrew says that the dog must be close to finishing, but Sam says it isn't yet.
  • Talking about finding his best friend's cufflinks in his wife's purse, a doctor states that he couldn't get an erection for a year and a half after that.
  • Sam and Andrew amusedly watch a dog scratch its own crotch.
  • We see various young men and women in their underwear (bras for the women as well) as they all collectively jump into a pool. Sam wears a black bra but nearly flesh colored panties that almost look as if she's wearing nothing down below as she swims in the pool at night. We later see a shapely young woman out of the pool in just her small bra and panties.
  • We see a silhouette drawing of a woman in a sexy pose where her chest is out, her back is arched and her hands are on her stuck-out butt.
  • We see people who've paid a hotel bellhop to peek through holes in the walls to watch people having sex. We then see a shot of a man having rear entry intercourse with a woman (that shows movement and her bare breast, as well as sexual sounds and him saying, "I'm gonna f*cking come"). The bellhop then says that girls like that one don't "f*ck" guys like him unless they're a whore or it's for coke, etc. He then asks Andrew, Mark and Sam (who are there for a different reason) who saw "T*tties" and they all raise their hands.
  • After Mark says that he's going to "kill that m*therf*cker" (a young guy who apparently spent the night with Mark's mom), Andrew jokingly asks if that pun is intended.
  • Andrew and Sam do some passionate kissing in the rain. Later, they hug while seated in an empty bathtub, but both are fully clothed. Even later, we see them in bed together in the spoons position under the covers (we see their bare shoulders), possibly implying sex.
  • SMOKING
  • Mark smokes around 5 times, while various minor or miscellaneous characters smoke in several scenes.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • As Andrew lies in bed, his father calls on the phone, leaving a message that Andrew never calls and that his mother had died by drowning in the bathtub.
  • We briefly see part of the funeral service for Andrew's mom.
  • We see that Andrew and his father have a strained relationship (in several scenes).
  • Andrew briefly talks to Sam about his mom dying and that he couldn't get himself to cry.
  • Andrew admits that he's the reason his mom was in a wheelchair (he pushed her and she fell over a dishwasher door that then fell open, causing her to hit her neck -- none of which is seen) and that he was put on medication to "curb his anger" and was then sent off to boarding school at the age of 16 and hadn't been home since.
  • Andrew's father asks, "Why are you so angry at me?" and Andrew then asks him (among other things) when their family was as happy as his father thinks they were.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • We see a great deal of prescription medicine in Andrew's medicine cabinet. We then hear that Andrew has constantly been on prescription drugs since the age of 10.
  • Andrew briefly talks to Sam about his mom dying and that he couldn't get himself to cry.
  • Death of a parent.
  • Death of a pet (Sam has to bury one of hers and we see that many others have been buried in the family pet cemetery).
  • We hear that Sam has epilepsy.
  • Andrew admits that he's the reason his mom was in a wheelchair (he pushed her and she fell over a dishwasher door that then fell open, causing her to hit her neck -- none of which is seen) and that he was put on medication to "curb his anger" and was then sent off to boarding school at the age of 16 and hadn't been home since.
  • Some people talk nonchalantly about who committed suicide from their school.
  • VIOLENCE
  • We see brief TV footage of a crocodile lunging out of the water and grabbing an antelope or similar creature.



  • Reviewed July 8, 2004 / Posted August 6, 2004

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