Weigh In: Garden State


For our next episode, we are revisiting Zach Braff’s 2004 directorial debut Garden State.  It was fairly well received by the 20-somethings of its day, and its soundtrack was a smash hit.  Quickly, and as is the wont of the 20-somethings of 2004, backlash against the film began to pick up steam.  Now, the film seems to be pretty widely written off as pandering and sentimental.  It has made Zach Braff more of a punchline than the It Boy he seemed poised to become.

What are your thoughts on Garden State?  What did you think of it when it came out?  What was your favorite song off the soundtrack?  Did The Shins blow your mind like Natalie Portman swore they would?  Speaking of which, what are your thoughts on Natalie Portman?  How did she escape the backlash?  What do you think of Garden State now?

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RIP Robin Williams


Various news sources have reported that Robin Williams was found dead today at the age of 63.  In a statement, his publicist said that the Academy Award winning actor and comedian “passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late.  This is a tragic and sudden loss.”  

Robin Williams has been an endearing and comforting screen presence for Nate and me our entire lives.  From the comedies of our childhoods to the powerful dramatic side of his work that we discovered as teens and young adults, Robin Williams was not only a brilliant and versatile performer, he was also a warm and fascinating presence who made the world fun and made exploring the zaniest regions of our imaginations seem like the most natural thing a human could do.

His roles in Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire, while perhaps not his most critically acclaimed, burn brightly in the memories of almost everyone our age.  In Williams’ hands, the roles moved beyond simple rehashing of a trope (in Hook) and mindless chaos (in Mrs. Doubtfire), and became early examples of how sometimes adults need to go to great lengths to right their wrongs.  Williams was adept at balancing his frenetic comic sensibilities with deep emotion simply expressed.  His work as Genie in Alladin not only stole the show, but gave me my first introductions to some important cultural hallmarks, including Ed Sullivan and Rodney Dangerfield, all of whom I still filter through Robin Williams’ impressions whenever I encounter them.

Williams was as willing to take risks in his more dramatic work as he was in his comedic roles.  Though he won his Oscar for his work in Good Will Hunting, his performances in The Fisher King, One Hour Photo, and Dead Poets Society are personal favorites, with Williams’ uncanny ability to restrain his electric persona to great effect.  His characters felt deeply, and let us know that it was safe for us to feel deeply too.

The circumstances of his death are especially difficult to grasp given Williams ability to find comedy in everything.  Taking cues from his mentor and idol, Johnathan Winters, Williams always seemed to be thinking several minutes ahead of everyone around him, always ready with three or four jokes before most other people had even thought of one (watch two and a half minutes of unmatchable brilliance from his appearance on Inside the Actor’s Studio).  Even still, he was a generous performer with a deep appreciation and passion for improv, and, by all accounts, a warm and generous person.

Williams will be deeply missed.

Weigh In (Bangarang Edition): Hook

Dante Basco as Rufio and Robin Williams as Peter Banning.

Dante Basco as Rufio and Robin Williams as Peter Banning.

We’re treading dangerous ground here on Can We Still Be Friends?  In our next episode we’re facing off against our younger selves by rewatching a movie that we loved as children, but haven’t seen since then.  It’s entirely possible we’ll ruin our entire childhoods with this episode.

We know a lot of people our age grew up watching and rewatching Hook, so we want to hear your memories of it.  Maybe you never liked it. Do you think Rufio was overrated and Thud Butt was the real hero among the Lost Boys?  Or are you Rufio all the way, and you still find yourself daydreaming about those spiky, spiky locks? Do you still yell “Bangarang!” when you execute an above average parallel parking job?  We’d also like to know if you’ve seen it as an adult and if returning to Neverland after a long time away caused you to lose your ability to believe in fairies.

Make sure to watch it again with us, and remember that you can still get in touch with us on any of our previous episodes.

In the meantime, let this inexplicable (and kind of sad, really) video reignite/kill your love for Rufio.  Why the real Rufio ever agreed to this, I can’t say.