Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Best Way to Spend Tuesday Night

Lastnight, with a backpack full of sandwiches and salads, I made my way up to Rockefeller Center for an evening screening of an almost family-safe edit of the new film Garden State. The clever planners of the event (actually the first of three nights of movies at Rockefeller Center) decorated the place like a drive-in movie theater, complete with classic convertibles providing seating for the evening’s VIPs. Sitting there, at the foot of a skyscraper under a purple sky with the sounds of 5th Avenue being drowned out by an absolutely aggressive speaker system, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a warm summer (it’s summer now, right?) night.

The fact that Garden State was a great movie didn’t hurt either, and I’m sorry that most people will have to wait until the end of July to see it. It’s written/directed/and starred-in by Zack Braff, apparently he’s on that show Scrubs that I’ve never seen. His co-star/love interest is Natalie Portman, yes, I know, there’s a name that hasn’t come up lately on this page. Braff and Portman were at the movie, sitting in a nearby sportscar . . . it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to apologize for Friday night’s little incident, but I didn’t really get much of a chance to talk with her.

But, yeah, anyway, the movie itself: as I was saying, it’s great. Sort of the saddest movie in the world infused with the comedic sensibility of the Naked Gun movies, if you can imagine such a creature. Braff plays Large, a 27-year old minimally successful actor who hasn’t been home to Jersey for 9 years who returns for his mother’s funeral (if you didn’t know I was a sucker for movies about artists who come home after there mom dies just wait until June 16), meets up with his friends who never left home (one’s a cop, one’s the wealthy inventor of “silent velcro”, one’s a gravedigger, the another works at a hardware store and is involved in multi-level marketing) and meets compulsive-liar and Sam (Natalie Portman). Hilarity, soul-searching, and love-falling-into ensue. On the whole, a very, very satisfying movie that left me feeling good all over, perhaps, as my viewing-partner pointed out, because it featured some of the best hugs in cinematic history?

If I had any problem at all with this movie, it’s that the otherwise great soundtrack featured too much Shins (a problem with Brigham: I can’t stand the Shins) . . . one song blaring out during a motorcycle ride had me rolling my eyes, but when one major scene featured Sam and Large bonding over/talking about a song of the Shins, man, they almost lost me.

Photographs from the evening will be up later on shutterfly.

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