We all have those films that we used to love back when we were a teenager. Usually when you're about 17 and getting into 'proper' films because of you've just started a Media Studies A Level at Sixth Form and found out what the word 'cinematography' means. You thought they were great, they spoke to you. You may have even reckoned that they changed your life. But you haven't watched them decades so you dust off the collectors edition DVD that you haven't touched since you moved out of your parents house, re-watch it and think "what the fuck was i thinking?! This is awful!"
I have a couple:
I thought, "wow, cool skateboarding kids, smoking weed and copping off with girls. Rawkus house parties. Giving the finger to The Man. I wish I was one of them". It was gritty, and real, and had sex and drugs in it, and I wished my life was like theirs (minus the HIV stuff), and "do you know the weed they smoked and the parties they were at was real? Yeah, takes the movie to a whole new level compared to more mainstream cinema".
Looking back at it now, it's all a bit gross. Maybe it's because I'm older and those kids in the movie aren't my peers anymore. Like the movie equivalent of going to a nightclub and feeling really old, wondering how I found those places fun in the first place. Maybe it's because I'm looking back on youth, with older and wiser eyes. Maybe it's because most of Larry Clarke's subsequent movies are also based around kids who engage in drug use and underage sex.
Garden State (2004)
This was one of the movies that helped invent the Manic Pixie Dream Girl stock character type that Zooey Deschanel has made a career off and as a 17-year old lad at the time when this came out, I was the target demographic and was reeled in hook, line and sinker.
I think that fact that a lot of 'coming-of-age, indie flicks' followed the same kind of blueprint in the wake of this movie - and did it much better - makes me realise when watching today that Garden State really isn't that great. The fact that it took Braff 10 years to make his follow up and it that it was shit speaks volumes that Garden State was a great case of right movie, at the right time.
Even that American Dad episode, 'Independent Movie', is better than it and it's a parody episode which admittedly absolutely nails the tropes of low-budget, independent American filmmaking which Garden State is full of.
Oh, yeah, and every character is a really annoying dickhead.
On a positive note, the soundtrack is alright. It introduced me to The Shins and Zero 7 at least.