After Scrubs and Garden State, Zach Braff was the next big thing...so how did it all end up with his tepid new show Alex Inc?
'Alex Inc' forgot that we are in the year 2018. But Zach wasn't always this way - it is a letdown, TBH, after how promising his work had looked after 'Scrubs' ended in 2010
"I always liked the story of Noah's Ark and the idea of starting anew by rescuing the things you like and leaving the rest behind." - Zach Braff
Remember Dr. JD from 'Scrubs'? The peculiar character of Dr. John Michael "J.D." Dorian was played by actor and filmmaker Zach Braff. He's back on television after his hiatus with 'Alex Inc' and we are left wondering whatever happened to Braffster and his talent.
A doctor of medicine at the fictional Sacred Heart Hospital, Zach's character JD had a cult following that loved him for his daydreams, which were inspired by the happenings of the day and the conversations with his friends and colleagues. Very sociable, he would speak to himself in his own head. Zach's comic timing as JD was on point - every time his fear of penises would be brought up or even the time he burnt down a Volvo at the side of the road in one of the early episodes.
'Alex Inc' is supposed to be a mixture of family comedy and workplace shenanigans, but unfortunately, it's just a bunch of old and overdone jokes. The series, streaming on Netflix is based on the character of Alex Schuman, played by Zach, who is trying to make his startup into a massive success.
The comedy (which it is lacking in) is slow, to say the least - and the topic quite old fashioned. As Alex tries to show the bootstrapping phase of his company and the struggles of an entrepreneur - which is well and good but it is the character of Alex that lets us down majorly. He is insecure about his cousin, he tries too hard to be nerdy, not to mention has a masculinity crisis literally every episode.
While it is pretty close to Zach's character in 'Scrubs' part of me feels like 'Alex Inc' forgot that we are in the year 2018. But Zach wasn't always this way - it is a letdown, TBH, after how promising his work had looked after 'Scrubs'.
'Scrubs' aired from 2001 until 2010 and was critically acclaimed for the first eight seasons and a major part of this applause was meant for Zach's character and his portrayal of it. The show was nominated for 17 Emmys and three Golden Globes and shot Zach to stardom. It was rated by Entertainment Weekly as a must- watch and received reviews like, "Scrubs is the trickiest comedy on TV. A likable, daffy, buoyant series that would be a big annoying mess if it weren't done just right, Scrubs is the very definition of nimble"
The ninth season, however, did not shoot for the stars but ended up landing on the dust. By the time the season had started airing, people were already nostalgic about it - meaning they were talking about how bad it was now and how great the last few years looked like. The last season was supposed to be the experiment, which failed - a shift from the hospital drama to the halls of med-school, where professors were to be in the spotlight.
But even after the sad reviews, it did not slow Zach down, he made some really good films.
In 2004, he wrote and directed 'Graden State', which not only got him recognition as a writer but also as a filmmaker. 'Garden State' had quite the star-studded cast as well - Natalie Portman, Ian Holm, Peter Sarsgaard and Braff himself. Filmed in Jersey, it was an instant hit - it got critical acclaim for the nuances it portrayed and people also praised its choice of music. Some event went on to say that this film revived Indie rock.
Based on his own experiences, Braff is said to have written this script, his first, in a matter of four months! The plot revolves around Andrew Largeman, a 26-year-old actor who part-times as a waiter to support his dreams but has to return to New Jersey after his mom passes away.
The film was made on a budget of $2.5 million and it made $35.8 million worldwide. Not to mention awards - Braff received Best New Director from the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Florida Film Critics Circle's Pauline Kael Breakout Award, Best Debut Director award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, Breakout of the Year from the Phoenix Film Critics Society. and Hollywood Breakthrough Director of the Year Award at the Hollywood Film Festival.
More than the awards and accolades, it was how passionate he was towards his work. He said in an interview soon after the film was successful that he didn't do it for the money. "It was about fighting for artistic integrity. It wasn't a money-making scheme. If I want to make money I'd go do a network TV show," he said. He was right too, after 'Scrubs' he was worth $22 million dollars in net worth.
Zach had no idea how to make a film, he had never done it before and here he was doing a fantastic job. "This experiment, which was a tremendous success, was [to find out] what it would be like if you took all the corporate involvement out of the process and you made a movie with and for your fans. Some people will love it, some people won't, but most importantly, you'll make something with and for your fans." Plus, it was all crowdfunded too on Kickstarter.
Last year he made all go wow with 'Going In Style', a comedy based on the life of a group of retired seniors as they get ready to rob a bank. An interesting as hell screenplay with a cast that included stars like Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Joey King, Matt Dillon, Christopher Lloyd, Ann-Margret and John Ortiz, this movie was a remake of the 1979 film of the same name.
Written by Theodore Melfi and directed by Zach, the film follows the gang as they get fed up with living a life of dissatisfaction as their pensions get canceled. The film quickly became a favorite, much like 'Garden State' and though it was made on a budget of just $25 million, it ended up raking $84 million worldwide.
While some critics felt like it was a heist with hugs, anyone who has watched the film clearly knows that the seniors never take the whole deal like a joke - they are like raw, experienced thugs who were coming into a life of crime like shrewd thugs.
In this film, you could see Braff's directional style - one could tell that this guy had a rock solid foundation in terms of comedy. Like 'Garden State', 'Going in Style' also told us a much darker story in a way that easy to stomach. More importantly, it highlighted a cause that Hollywood usually forgets - the state of the elderly.
What happened to him? Did he make too much money? Is this an experimentation phase and we'll see the beauty in his filmmaking again? We really hope so. He was one of the most talented stars from the 2000s and this comeback with 'Alex Inc' is as disappointing as his try at romance in 2014, 'The Last Kiss'. The film was so boring, it's not even worth talking about.
Frankly, what Zach seems to miss is his audience research - what works once may not work again. It is needless to say that he is solid at making people laugh - but he needs to give the audience something new to laugh about.