September 23, 2006


Slate gets it exactly right:
Zach Braff has said that his hit movie Garden State (2004) was "a big, life-affirming, state-of-the-union address for twentysomethings." I'm a twentysomething. His new feature, The Last Kiss, documents the mental anguish of a 29-year-old commitment-phobe. I'm at the age when commitment looms. If Braff maintains this pace, he'll be making facile observations about our voyage through life's milestones until he films an indie-rock-infused On Golden Pond. My only comfort is that one day, we'll both be dead. If Zach Braff is the voice of my generation, can't someone please crush his larynx?[...]

What has Braff's keen ear picked up about the nation's young people? If Garden State is to be believed, they spend their days squinting and staring wistfully while slowly learning that it's OK to feel and, like, live. When they do speak, yearbook quotes come out. For example: "Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place." In The Last Kiss, Braff furrows his brow solemnly and ponders a question that's paralyzed millions: Should I replace my incredibly hot girlfriend with an incredibly hot college student? This time, OC starlet Rachel Bilson gets the Ferris Bueller-esque pearl of wisdom: "The world is moving so fast now that we start freaking out way before our parents did because we don't ever stop to breathe anymore." Never has the voice of a generation had so little of substance to say[...]

Braff is, essentially, an aggregator. His soundtracks are lists of his favorite songs. Garden State was a list of funny anecdotes and off-kilter objects rather than a cohesive story. He might not have anything original to say, but Braff does offer this insight on our generation: We are inclined to mistake stuff for substance.
Full disclosure: I own a copy of Garden State. I am a devoted fan of Miss Portman's. Nothing more.

Also, this trailer mash-up of Garden State is extremely good.

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