Garden State ★★★ 2004 (R)
Zach Braff stars in his directorial debut (which he also wrote) as Andrew Largeman, Large to his friends, a struggling actor whose biggest role so far has been a retarded quarterback in a cable movie. Things aren't going well. He works at a Vietnamese restaurant, is in a perpetually medicated state, and his father just called to tell him his mother died. Large flies home to New Jersey for the first time in nine years for the funeral, leaving his medication behind. Reunited with his high school friends, who form a motley crew ranging from a gravedigger to a millionaire who invented silent Velcro, Large begins to experience life again. His awakening is further helped by the arrival of Sam (Portman), a cute, quirky free spirit. While there are some minor flaws, the stellar cast and some genuinely amusing moments are well worth a look. 109m/C DVD . US Zach Braff, Ian Holm, Ron Leibman, Method Man, Natalie Portman, Ann Dowd, Denis O'Hare, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Weston, Jean Smart, Jim Parsons, Jackie Hoffman, Amy Ferguson, Ato Essandoh; D: Zach Braff; W: Zach Braff; C: Lawrence Sher; M: Chad Fisher. Ind. Spirit ‘05: First Feature.