Orange County

Does nepotism pay off in Hollywood? Orange County is a possible answer to that question. The most notable aspect of this movie is that his has the son of Tom Hanks, the daughter of Sissy Spacek, and the son of Lawrence Kasdan. Otherwise, the best thing to say about this movie is that is not as bad as it looks. It's not great, but neither are many other movies. This is just a mediocre attempt at a comedy that really has nothing to do with Orange County. Orange County here is synonymous with any upper middleclass suburb. Shaun Brumder (Colin Hanks, Get Over It, Whatever It Takes) lives here and wants something different. He was a surfer, and now is an aspiring writer. He feels that looking for inspiration in Orange County is futile. He wants to go to Stanford to study with Marcus Skinner, whose book caused Shaun to decide to be a writer. In the movie, Shaun and his girlfriend Ashely (Schuyler Fisk, Skeletons in the Closet, Snow Day). Everybody else is insane.

Shaun is rejected from Stanford because the wrong transcript went with his application. Orange County records Shaun's attempts to make it back into Stanford. He invites a member of the board to his house, only to have his chances ruined by his mother (Catherine O'Hara, Best in Show, The Life Before This) and his junkie brother Lance (Jack Black, Shallow Hal, Saving Silverman). Feeling somewhat remorseful (or maybe just still high), Lance offers to drive Shaun and Ashley to Stanford, where he can appeal personally to the dean of admissions. At Stanford, Shaun must face all sort of strange happenings in his quest for his dream school.

There is a surprising amount of comedic talent here. Aside from O'Hara and Black, Chevy Chase, Lily Tomlin, Garry Marshall, Ben Stiller, John Lithgow, and Harold Ramis appear. Most have a couple things to say before disappearing back to wherever they came from. Most of what they do is not too funny. Screenwriter Mike White (Chuck & Buck) is primarily at fault. Chuck & Buck was such an original (and creepy) story, so it's so sad watching Orange County, which borders on bland. Every scene feels manufactured to top what happened before. Shaun must go through an increasing amount of strain to reach his goal. There is not enough story to merit an entire movie. So White and director Jake Kasdan (Fresh Kills, Zero Effect) throw in little meaningless subplots involving Shaun's divorced parents and his surfer friends. Everything comes together in the end, only because it has to, not because it needs to.

As actors, Hanks and Fisk perform well given their material. Fisk has a one-dimensional character as the nice, ever-supportive girlfriend. All she needs to do is smile and act compassionate. Hanks has a meatier role, but it just feels like a retread of nearly every role played by Ben Stiller, the increasingly frustrated normal guy. Like his father, he has a genial sort of everyman persona that makes him appealing and relatable. Black, as he has lately, steals the show. He has the best lines, and is the most animated presence in the film. Since Black has such a large role and is doing what he always does, one's perception of Orange County will most likely depend on how one feel's about Black as an actor.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 24 minutes, Rated PG-13 for drug content, language, and sexuality.

Back to Movies