10 Movies like Garden State you must watch

By Louie Fecou
Published: August 21, 2023 (Last updated: February 8, 2024)
10 Movies like Garden State you must watch

We discuss 10 movies like Garden State you must watch. Add these well-recommended and highly-rated films to your watch list.

Although Garden State from 2004 is mostly regarded as a rom-com, it can easily be argued that the film is a bit more than that.

The film was a quirky and character-driven study that did well on its release and was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival. Written and directed by Zach Braff, who also stars in the film, it also received a critical thumbs up from reviewers and audiences.

The film follows the story of Andrew, a waiter and out-of-work actor who returns to his hometown of Jersey after the death of his mother.

The film explores themes of family and guilt and the idea that we may be sleepwalking through our lives, and not noticing the important things.

If you remember this film fondly from your teenage years, you might feel like revisiting it, or you might feel like looking for films that are in a similar vein, so the following article is a list of recommendations that you might enjoy if you were a fan of Garden State.

10 Movies like Garden State

Jersey Girl (2004)

Ex-glum Batman Ben Affleck stars in this rom-com directed by teary-eyed man-child Kevin Smith and follows another detached protagonist who finds his life turned upside down when faced with being a single dad, with a career trajectory that is diving lower than Jason Statham in The Meg.

More frothy than Garden State, but there’s some good stuff to be seen.

Where the Heart Is (2000)

Broken-nosed Black Widow Natalie Portman is the star here. She also appears in Garden State. This is another low-key character-driven piece of film that has an unusual and intriguing premise, with seventeen-year-old pregnant and abandoned Portman living in a Walmart through her pregnancy.

Poignant and off the beaten track, you should enjoy this.

The Upside of Anger (2005)

Kevin Costner co-stars with Joan Allen, who plays Terry, abandoned by her husband and left to bring up her four daughters on her own.

She makes friends with Denny, a baseball player and DJ, leading to more complications in her life.

The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)

Another off-the-wall premise finds six Californians who decide to share their love of Jane Austen in a book club.

However, in a twist straight from The Twilight Zone, they start to notice that events in their own personal lives are mirroring events from Austen’s novels.

Dan in Real Life (2007)

Single father Steve Carell finds himself returning home, just like Andrew in Garden State, to his parent’s house in Rhode Island for a yearly reunion but finds himself falling for Marie, whom he meets in a bookshop.

That’s all great till he realizes Marie is the current girlfriend of his brother.

Carell pretty much carries this. If you like him, you will love him.

People Like Us (2012)

Another family death and a return home fuels this narrative, with Star Trekkin’  Chris Pine playing sleazy Sam, going home after the death of his father, and discovering he has a half-sister for the first time.

Sam finds that he might be the only chance of bringing the family back together in a third-act redemption arc.

Tiny Furniture (2010)

Lena Dunham plays Aura, a college grad who is now drifting aimlessly, returning home in the hope of finding some direction.

The do-it-yourself feel of the movie is authentic, Dunham made the movie with no budget, relying on friends to pitch in, giving it an unusual cadence and dream-like pace.

New York, I Love You (2008)

Unfamous vine swinger Shia LaBeouf stars with, you guessed it, Natalie Portman in this weird and ambient trip through New York, presented in eleven chapters that often intertwine in an ambitious and oddly voyeuristic piece of work.

Interesting and experimental.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009)

Pippa and her older husband, Herb, decide to move from Manhattan to a retired community.

Flashbacks reveal Pippa’s story and the turmoil that she seems to be facing daily in her life, past and present.

Pippa is slowly descending into her own private breakdown.

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Space raccoon and talented long-distance shooter Bradley Cooper stars in this fan-favorite romantic tale of a former teacher recovering from a breakdown and moving back in with his folks.

He tries to patch things up with his ex, then meets the enigmatic Tiffany, who has a lot of baggage of her own.

This is top-tier stuff you must watch if you like Garden State.

Do you have any other recommendations for movies like Garden State? Let us know in the comments.

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