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Zach Braff Reacts to Critics Turning Against ‘Garden State,’ Plus Manic Pixie Dream Girl Backlash: ‘I Can’t Really Dwell on It’
Zack Sharf Digital News Director Zach Braff was the toast of the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, where he emerged as an indie film wunderkind thanks to “Garden State.” The coming-of-age dramedy sold to Fox Searchlight for $5 million, double its production budget, and became a poster child for hip indies of the early aughts thanks to its Grammy-winning soundtrack and quirky characters. Flash forward to 2015, and Vice was celebrating the film’s anniversary with the following headline: “It’s the 10-Year Anniversary of Realizing ‘Garden State’ Sucked.” Time has not been kind to “Garden State.” It’s the kind of film that now elicits groans and eye-rolls since its arty blocking (that wallpaper!) and alt-rock soundtrack have become worn out indie film cliches. Natalie Portman’s character, Sam, is often cited as one of the worst offenders of the “manic pixie dream girl” stereotype, which describes a quirky female character whose main narrative purpose is to save their male counterpart and teach him about the meaning of love and life. Nearly 20 years after the film’s debut, Braff confronted the backlash head on in a new interview with The Independent.