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Orange County

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All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Orange County

Starring: Colin Hanks, Jack Black
Director: Jake Kasdan
Rated: R
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: January 2002
Genre: Comedy


*Also starring: John Lithgow, Catherine O'Hara, Lily Tomlin, Schuyler Fisk, Harold Ramis, Leslie Mann, Kevin Kline, Chevy Chase, Ben Stiller



Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

Acting lessons. Lots of acting lessons. Colin Hanks may be the son of an Oscar-winning actor (Tom Hanks), but a famous last name isn't enough if you're the star of the movie. With little visible talent and no energy, Hanks is in bad need of major acting lessons and maybe a little coffee.

In ORANGE COUNTY, Hollywood's almost grown-up kids get together and make a movie. It is directed by Jake Kasdan, son of famous director Lawrence Kasdan (THE BIG CHILL), and, in addition to Colin Hanks (GET OVER IT), also stars Schuyler Fisk (SNOW DAY), daughter of Sissy Spacek (IN THE BEDROOM). Nothing beats being born with the right parents to provide a jumpstart to your career. Schuyler Fisk, unlike Colin Hanks, does show some promise in the picture, but her part is so underwritten that it's hard to be sure.

The picture has a killer supporting cast of more mature actors, including Ben Stiller, Jane Adams, Chevy Chase, Kevin Kline, Garry Marshall, Jack Black, Catherine O'Hara, and John Lithgow. All are wasted.

And speaking of wasted, the movie, which plays like a cross between two of last year's most painfully unfunny films, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS and HOW HIGH, is a questionably rated PG-13 movie. With its pervasive drug subtheme, it is surprising that the MPAA gave it a PG-13 rating. Most parents probably worry a lot more about drug usage than their kids' hearing the F-word a few times or seeing some naked breasts. In a major role, Jack Black plays a brother who spends his life popping pills and staying so stoned that he can barely function as a human being. Other characters take drugs as well.

The plot involves a high school student named Shaun Brumder (Colin Hanks), a surfer dude from Orange County who has his world forever changed when he reads (52 times) a book he found buried in the sand. Within a year, he has decided to become a writer and has developed the credentials necessary to be accepted into Stanford. When his guidance counselor (Lily Tomlin) mixes up his transcript, he is accidentally rejected. He heads north to Stanford to convince the dean of admissions, Don Durkett (Harold Ramis), to place his name on the hallowed acceptance list. The events there are straight out of many other lame teen movies, and few of the incidents are funny.

With unsympathetic and uninteresting characters, ORANGE COUNTY has no reason to have been made, save the showcasing of famous actors' offspring. The film makes the fatal mistake of forgetting that most comedies require credible characters in order to be funny. Shaun's large, dysfunctional family doesn't have a single believable individual.

Welcome to January when the studios dump their dogs.

ORANGE COUNTY runs 1:23. It is rated PG-13 for "drug content, language and sexuality" and would be acceptable for most teenagers.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave it * 1/2. He thought the movie was dull, the characters were stupid and the jokes were rarely funny. The only part he liked was Fisk's performance.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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