Once upon a time…a frail human, a baby koala, and a wacky cartoon sidekick managed to somehow fuck and have a baby. We all know that baby now as sad actor (sactor?) David Swimmer from the tv show, Friends. But what very few people know is that inside Swimmer a fully developed fetal twin was found. This poorly matured other served as a depository for all of Swimmer’s least masculine genes. Eventually they cut out the twin and gave him a tv show of his own called Scrubs. This…is the secret origin of Omega-Male Zack Braff, a man so light and vapid that even his last name is an onomatopoeia for farting.
Soon Braff became restless with his role as a 12 year old female doctor trying to make it in a man’s world. When the time came for his big leap to film, he didn’t choose the predictable directors like Nora Ephron, Cameron Crowe, or James L. Brooks. He chose me, Sam Strange, because deep down he knew it was his only chance at a serious reception outside of his LBGTween fanbase.
I was on a yacht playing poker with John Milius, Nancy Cartwright and Hunter S. Thompson. Cigars were going, and we drank brandy through straws made from Ernest Hemingway’s finger bones. None of us heard Zack Braff enter, but his presence was made apparent when we smelled his obnoxious hair gel and heard the tinny sound of harmonized vocals coming through his ipod earbuds.
“Gentlemen,” he whispered. “I want to make a film that eases the emotionally raw nerves of my lost generation.”
Hunter S. Thompson screamed and shot him in the face. John Milius tried to eat him, starting with the arm. But no harm can come to Zack Braff. His body is composed only of thick, slightly perfumed air. I canceled the poker game and sat the kid down to hear him out.
In the grand scheme of bad scripts, Garden State (or as I like to call it, Springsteen Don’t Live Here No Mo’) surpasses simply “bad” and becomes interesting purely on an academic level. I’d have to be crazy to make it but more crazy to pass it up. Besides, I hadn’t sarcastically examined a generation of assholes since I made Reality Bites. I told him I’d do it and from that point on, only called him girl names.
As Garden State begins, Zack Braff is in LA working as a geisha at an upscale restaurant/brothel. Normally, getting fucked by fat, rich white dudes would cause one to consider a different job, but Braff’s cool with it. In fact, he’s cool with everything. The bevy of downers and anti-depressants he takes every morning make him more laid back than Fonzie but way less capable of chest hair and boners.
Soon he finds that his wheelchair-bound mother has played her last round of Murderball, and he must go back home to attend her funeral. Again, prescription drugs rob him of any feelings on the matter. He just wanders from apartment to cab to airport to home without changing his facial expression. While on the plain he finds out about 9/11 and even then does not react. This is the perfect role for really shitty actors.
Once in the Garden State, Zack Braff’s dad (played by Brian Cox) starts nagging him about his medication. Braff is all like “slobber slobber on your carpet, Dad” and Brian Cox says, “Hmmm…You look sufficiently drugged up. Nevermind.” Then Brian Cox sits on his bed and cries. (According to the script, anyone not in a given scene of this film is sitting on their bed crying, FYI.)
We see that Braff’s room is one of those “movie rooms” which makes the character relatable somehow because he owns everything the people in the audience wish they’d had in their room growing up. He’s got a sidecar-equipped scooter, pictures from his weekend at Neverland Ranch, and a Powerglove that really fucking works. He never seems to give a shit, though, and yet somehow the audience doesn’t get alienated by his spoiled attitude. That can only mean that the audience is an asshole, too. Ha! I knew it!
At his mother’s funeral, Braff meets two deadbeat dipshits who never got out of their depressing small town. The dipshit on the left is dreamy and offers sage advice about not giving a shit the natural way: smoking weed. This fartknocker is the biggest fish in the smallest pond ever. The dipshit on the right doesn’t matter, so forget about him.
Zack Braff goes to a doctor appointment and meets a retarded girl in the waiting room. She’s all about being the first person to ever do something. At one point, she makes a sour face and does a little dance, “There! No one’s ever done that before!” You have to understand how much Brian Cox and I laughed during the making of this film. Before the scene ends, she puts some peanut-butter smelling headphones on him. “This song will totally change your life,” she promises. THIS is the song she plays for him.
So while Zack Braff is in town, he’s gonna hang out with Local Dipshit and Retarded Girl. Occasionally he’ll even hang out with both at the same time. The really fun afternoons they spend together make him think he can finally get off his medication and be a person capable of feeling. He tells Brian Cox this plan. “That’s a very bad idea!” Brian Cox replies.
“Why? Why, Daddy, Why? How come?”
“Son. Your momma was in a wheelchair because you broke her spine when she brought home Super Mario Brothers 2. You were disappointed in the game and because she gave it to you, you thought she actually made it and held her responsible and cut her spine in half with a tablesaw. That’s why I’ve kept you drugged all these years. You’re dangerous!”
Zack Braff runs away crying. He’s got his emotions back now, but boy do they suck. The only comfort he can think of is Retarded Girl, but when he bursts into her room, he finds her sleeping with Local Dipshit.
This is too much emotion for Zack Braff. His pained eyes glow green. His arms and his legs burst through his clothes. His roar makes lions shit themselves (even the female ones). Those poor fuckers woke up the Braff-Hulk, who obviously rips them apart and plays with their guts until he gets bored of that. Then he eats their parents. Then he eats his dad. After the massacre, Braff-Hulk reverts back to Zack Braff who walks into the sunset listening to The Shins or The Decemberists or some other rock band my grandma could beat up. The end.
I have to admit, little Braffy pulled one over on me. I thought we were making some kind of The Graduate-level statement about a fucked up generation. But we were actually making a movie where Zack Braff looks like a killer badass. It was a totally vain fantasy, but I’m okay with that. I’ve done worse. Not worse movies, of course. Better movies for worse reasons. Also, after making this movie, I put all my kids on drugs. If they were capable of being happy now, we’d all be very happy.
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