Friday, February 18, 2005

Guardian of the Infinite Abyss

Does a movie have to make you laugh to be funny? It sounds like an odd question, but after seeing "Garden State" I think it's valid. The movie does have some traditional humor, but more importantly there are a lot of non-laughing funny things in it. For example, in what is basically a throw-away line, a secondary character mentions that he invented Silent Velcro. That's funny. Not in a "guy getting kicked in the groin" sort of way, but in a "wow, imagine a world with silent velcro" way. It's funny. Garden State has great random moments like this throughout the entrie film. Maybe I only liked it because it's about a guy from L.A. going back home to New Jersey.

This wouldn't be the Rants of Mister P. without some complaining, and Garden State does have some faults:
1. Natalie Portman. Her character is sort of like Smurfette. As a compulsive liar. Auditioning for American Idol. Just something about her is buggin'.
2. The film falls apart in the last 10 minutes. This movie is best when it focuses on the characters and we get to see them just going through their day. But near the end, it's like all of a sudden they have to throw in a bunch of plot to wrap everything up. It's OK for a film not to have closure. Especially one like this.
3. The music. For some reason, the filmmakers couldn't figure out how to end a scene other than to fade up some dramatic profound song for 20 seconds. I guess they were just trying to create a profitable soundtrack. It can work for one or two scenes, but not ten.

I'm glad I saw Garden State shortly after Napoleon Dynamite, because in many ways they are similar films. Cetainly Napoleon is more indie than Garden, but both films are relatively small releases featuring slices of life from quirky characters. The difference is that Garden State does it well.

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