If The Breakfast Club is an accurate microcosm of high school, and we all know it is, then you can scientifically determine if a gal is a Molly Ringwald or an Ally Sheedy by placing copies of the Princess Diaries 2 and Garden State soundtracks side-by-side in front of her. The first is pure Molly, while the second will fill Allys with (totally hidden) glee.
With names such as Lindsey Lohan, Kelly Clarkson and Pink appearing on the PD2 soundtrack, you get a pretty clear sense that we're not talking about a Martin Scorsese flick here -- which is certainly appropriate, given the tween target of the film. But even by pre-teen pop standards, the castaways that show up here disappoint. To hear Avril Lavigne phoning it in, as she clearly is with her "I Always Get What I Want," is to stare into the blinding center of mediocrity. Wilson Phillips (how'd they sneak in here?) covering the Beach Boys' "Dance, Dance, Dance" is wrong on so many levels, it defies our three-dimensional universe.
It's not all bad, though. The very young Reneé Olstead acquits herself well with "A Love That Will Last." Acquits herself well, that is, except of charges of ripping off Norah Jones, who also shows up on the record (with a cover of "Love Me Tender"; it sounds exactly like you think it would). And the less said about Julie Andrews' appearance on the album, the better.
Garden State is the product of Scrubs star Zach Braff, who wrote, directed and starred in the film. He serves as the executive producer of the soundtrack as well, and it stands up as a well-crafted, almost embarrassingly hip mixed CD (although all mixed-CD auters know to never use two songs by the same artist, as Braff does here with the Shins). Like PD2's soundtrack, just reading a list of the artists gives you a pretty good idea of what the film is like: Coldplay, Nick Drake, Thievery Corporation and Iron & Wine...slice-of-quarterlife-crisis, anyone? You can imagine a young Braff giving this exact CD to the Ally Sheedy in his own life -- before she dolls up and becomes a princess, anyway. (Quit doing that, Hollywood!)