18 Facts About Garden State

Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Garden State became an instant indie hit when it was released on July 28, 2004—both with moviegoers and critics. Inspired by Say Anything, Harold and Maude, and the fine state of New Jersey itself, writer/director/star Zach Braff’s movie tells the story of adrift twentysomethings. Here are some facts about the film that won’t make you scream into the abyss.

1. IT WAS THE FIRST SCRIPT BRAFF EVER WROTE.

Braff spent years putting the story together in his head and on paper before actually sitting down and banging out the script over a four-month period.

2. IT WAS ORIGINALLY TITLED LARGE’S ARK.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Braff's character, Andrew Largeman, went by the nickname “Large.” According to Braff, there are intentional allusions throughout the movie to Noah’s Ark.

3. BRAFF ESTIMATES THAT "ABOUT 75 PERCENT" OF THE STUFF IN THE MOVIE ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

Jesse shot a flaming arrow toward the heavens because Braff’s friend liked to shoot arrows into the air for fun. Writing about a character on lithium with a psychiatrist parent was aided by the fact that Braff’s mother and stepfather were psychologists, and his stepmother was a therapist. Like Large, Braff worked as a waiter at a Vietnamese restaurant while trying to make his living as a full-time actor. Sam’s adopted African brother was inspired by Braff’s adopted Mexican sister.

4. BRAFF SENT A CD WITH EACH SCRIPT.

In trying to attract interest in the movie, Braff made a mix of the music he wanted in it. Some actors who passed on the film cushioned the blow by commenting on how much they liked the CD. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were shown a clip of the scene that Braff hoped they could use “The Only Living Boy in New York” for, and the duo gave their blessing. The soundtrack won the 2005 Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.

5. NATALIE PORTMAN WAS COURTED BY WAY OF A LETTER.

Braff penned a letter to the actress. They then had lunch and Portman agreed to play Sam. Braff was surprised she said yes.

6. PORTMAN WAS STILL STUDYING AT HARVARD AT THE TIME.

Garden State was shot during the spring semester of Portman's senior year. Braff and Peter Sarsgaard met up with her at Harvard before filming to bond/party.

7. IT WAS ENTIRELY FINANCED BY ONE GUY.

Gary Gilbert made his fortune with home mortgages and was looking to get into the film industry. He wrote Braff a check for $2.5 million.

8. JESSE WAS ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE A DOT COM MILLIONAIRE.

Braff read one day about a 20-year-old billionaire who made his money from the internet. When the dot com bubble burst, he re-wrote Jesse to have invented silent Velcro instead.

9. THE CREW WAS ALMOST TOO GOOD AT THEIR JOBS.

A location scout looking for Andrew Largeman’s childhood New Jersey home knocked on the front door of a house that looked to be a good fit. It turned out to be Braff’s father’s place. (They didn’t end up shooting there.)

10. BRAFF CUT HIS REAL-LIFE RELATIVES FROM MOVIE.

They were extras in the Shiva scene, but their parts were left on the cutting room floor. He had to call them all and relay the bad news.

11. THE BEVERLY HILLS VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT ISN’T A BEVERLY HILLS VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT.

Most of the film was shot in New Jersey, but that food establishment was the Sea Thai Bistro in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

12. METHOD MAN WAS "BASHFUL" ON HIS ONE DAY OF SHOOTING.

Using some coarse language around Portman made the actor/rapper more inhibited than expected. Braff theorized that it was because he was a big Star Wars fan. Portman found it amusing.

13. THE POOL SCENE AT JESSE’S MANSION WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT TO SHOOT.

The owner of the Mahwah, New Jersey Crocker Mansion yelled at Braff on a rainy night when the toilets were backed up.

14. SARSGAARD ONCE SHOWED UP TO WORK IN A TUXEDO.

The actor was out late one night and didn’t have enough time to go home to change before arriving on the set. Sarsgaard claimed the (sort of) shameful mindset helped him play Mark in the scene the morning after the party.

15. SARSGAARD DIDN'T THINK HIS CHARACTER SHOULD HAVE A TATTOO.

Sarsgaard disagreed with Braff on having Mark wear ink on his arms to make his character a physically tough person. He told his director he would only spend 45 minutes every day to get a fake tattoo on his arm if it was something innocent like a “frog or something.”

16. THE DOG THAT HUMPED BRAFF WAS CUED BY TWO PHRASES.

When Ike was to mount, his trainer ordered him to “Love him up.” When Ike was meant to “gyrate”, his trainer asked, “Who’s your bitch?”

17. ONLY ONE OR TWO TAKES WERE SHOT FOR EACH SCENE.

Garden State was shot in just 25 days, while editing took six weeks. Braff began editing the movie while they were still filming.

18. BRAFF CRASHED WITH SARSGAARD AND MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL WHEN IT DEBUTED AT SUNDANCE.

After the movie screened—with then-New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine in attendance for support—Fox Searchlight and Miramax offered $5 million to release the movie as a joint effort (which is a rarity).

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40) 

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse 3.5 Quarts; $180 (save $120)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75) 

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $88 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10) 

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $13 (save $14)

HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- Fairywill Electric Toothbrush with Four Brush Heads; $19 (save $9)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31) 

TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Home Office Shredder; $33 (save $7)

Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30) 

Video games

Sony

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition for Nintendo Switch; $20 (save $10)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

The Sims 4; $20 (save $20)

God of War for PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

Days Gone for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- Apple MacBook Air 13 inches with 256 GB; $899 (save $100)

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250) 

- Samsung Chromebook 4 Chrome OS 11.6 inches with 32 GB; $210 (save $20) 

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 inches with 32 GB; $100 (save $50)

Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $379 (save $20)

- Apple iMac 27 inches with 256 GB; $1649 (save $150)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $179 (save $20) 

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $169 (save $50)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera with EF-M 15-45mm Lens; $549 (save $100)

DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

Can You Find All of Kevin McCallister’s Booby Traps From Home Alone?

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

Kevin McCallister's house in Home Alone (1990) has become an iconic movie landmark. If you can't make it to the Chicago area to see the real location in person, you can explore the house as it appears in the film—booby traps and all—using the 3D map below.

In honor of Home Alone's 30 anniversary in 2020, home services company Groundworks put together this 3D model of the home where Kevin foils the Wet Bandits. Harry and Marv didn't fare so well in the house, but fans of the movie may have a better shot at spotting all the hidden dangers. Pitfalls hidden throughout the map include the blowtorch that scorches Harry, the tarantula that terrorizes Marv, and the paint cans that hit both intruders.

There are 14 booby traps in total—see if you can spot them all. After giving up, you can check the locations of each trap here.

Groundworks

The pranks in Home Alone are comedic on screen, but in real life they would be much less family-friendly. A doctor diagnosed Marv and Harry's injuries in 2018. Even if they were able to walk away from Kevin's assaults, they would likely sustain facial fractions and third-degree burns. Here are more facts about the movie to check out this holiday season.