GARDEN STATE Since 2004, giving awkward nerds false hope that Natalie Portman might like them.
  • GARDEN STATE Since 2004, giving awkward nerds false hope that Natalie Portman might like them.

Every time 2004's precious Garden State has come up in conversation—for me at least, this has happened a few times in the past five or six years—it gets a lot of eye rolls, which could mean a few things: my friends are hipper-than-thou dicks (very possible), the movie hasn't aged well (also possible), the manic pixie dream girl cliche has aged even worse (likely), people are embarrassed to admit they liked it (and liked the Shins) as much as they once did (exceedingly likely), and/or people simply don't remember that, despite its flaws, the movie felt genuine and like it had some things to say (which it did). Zach Braff hasn't made a movie since—not because he didn't want to, turns out, but because was waiting for the Veronica Mars Kickstarter to prove that crowdfunding could bypass Hollywood's traditional funding structures! So now Zach Braff wants $2 million to make a pseudo-sequel to Garden State.

I'm okay with this new trend, actually: If a new model for film production is that audiences pay more for specific movies they really want to see, rather than paying less for middle-of-the-road, mass-appeal movies that they only kind of want to see, that seems fine. I liked Garden State enough (eye roll) that if the rewards were better, I'd chip in for this. I didn't, though, because the one thing I'd want to get out of contributing to any film- or book- or videogame-based Kickstarter—a copy of the final product—isn't available. (I'm guessing this is because—unlike Veronica Mars' slick, studio-approved setup, which already had distribution set up through Warner Bros.—Braff doesn't have a distributor for his film, and it doesn't look like he's planning to line one up anytime soon.)

That seems like a mistake: Sure, some Kickstarters are funded because people find inherent value in a thing existing (Reading Frenzy comes to mind), but a lot more get funded because Kickstarter functions as a feel-good pre-ordering scheme: "I'll give you money now," donors say, "for a thing that I'd probably buy later anyway, thus ensuring said thing comes into existence." The smartest, most obviously desirable rewards the Veronica Mars Kickstarter offered were digital copies, DVDs, and Blu-rays of the movie for those who backed the project; there's no such reward on Braff's Kickstarter, only the chance to watch the movie via a stream when it's its finished, or go to a screening if you live in New York, LA, Chicago, or London. That's a no go, for me at least: If I'm helping fund a mass-distributed work of art (eye roll), then it seems obvious that I should be able to get a copy of it, right?