Director: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Year Released: 2006
Screenwriting the easy way: throw several purposely eccentric, ultimately one-dimensional types in a yellow VW van (which is eccentric in itself, what with the broken horn, the broken clutch and so forth) to go to an eccentric beauty contest for little girls, add one complication after another ... "indie" success! I'll admit I found Steve Carell (against type) in a self-absorbed, Proustian fog and Alan Arkin as an aging cretin (who advises his grandson to hit the pussy early and hard) to be amusing, but so much of this rings false and intentionally precious it spoils its own little kicks. Three glaring examples: (1.) the sudden realization of colorblindness in a mute teen turns awkward but quickly resolves itself and is moved beyond, (2.) the entire being of motivational speaker Greg Kinnear is irritating and (3.) the fact that the potential preteen star (played by Abigail Breslin) gets picked to be in a beauty pageant without having any experience or knowledge of how a beauty contest is run. Whatever - it's 2006's Garden State, which means it's a love-hate thing (and yes, I'm going to continue using Garden State as a model of fraudulent hipster movies).