Zach Braff’s (of TV’s Scrubs) directorial debut was such a hit at Sundance that “the hype” posited him as a potential “next great director.” In 2018, we know that never happened. As far as his debut went, sometimes the lines were too clichéd. And sometimes it was too ponderous. But there were some hilarious moments and Natalie Portman stole the show for sure. It was wonderful to see her get to ACT again after suffering away in those horrific Star Wars prequels. Braff does a decent job of capturing the confusion of Generation X. Like most angst-ridden Gen X’ers, he had this privileged upbringing but his Maslow Jones wouldn’t let him be happy. Braff did throw in a horrific trauma to justify his main character’s depression and resulting diet of heavy lithium and other psychotropic drugs. But I wonder if it would have been more realistic and more relevant to his generation if there wasn’t this one catastrophic event and if it was just the mundane lack of fear and challenge in our average lives that killed this kid’s soul. We middle class Americans have everything we need. Our only challenges are mental. But if you ask a Filipino in the slums of Manila, he would call this guy an asshole who didn’t appreciate anything. And I would have to agree. I don’t appreciate anything and most of us don’t appreciate anything. I don’t think he did. But maybe the neurotoxin cocktail didn’t give him a choice. I don’t think most people in the middle class and up do. Braff did an excellent job of portraying this lack of perspective and the atmosphere he wove (The Dessert Storm Trading Cards, Wallpaper Shirt and Army Motorcycle are only three that are born of sheer love for film) aspires to (but does not equal it to be fair) Lost in Translation. Too bad Braff never managed to make remotely as good a movie ever again.
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