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Orange County

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 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 Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

While nepotism has always been popular in Hollywood (that's how I broke into acting at age 3), it runs rampant in this amiable adolescent date-movie. Directed by Jake Kasdan (son of director Lawrence) from a script by Mike White, it stars Colin Hanks (son of Tom) as a surfer who decides to become a writer when one of his buddies dies and he discovers Marcus Skinner's novel "Straight Jacket" half-buried in the sand. (If you're older, recall the impact of "Catcher in the Rye.") "Maybe there's a bigger purpose in life and I've been too high to figure it out," he muses. But - despite his excellent high-school transcript - his application is rejected by Stanford University, where the legendary Skinner teaches. His loyal girl-friend, Schuyler Fisk (daughter of Sissy Spacek), understands but he gets little help from his wealthy, work-obsessed divorced dad (John Lithgow) and alcoholic mom (Catherine O'Hara), impulsive stoner brother (Jack Black) or stupid, self-absorbed guidance counselor (Lily Tomlin) who has screwed him up by sending in the wrong SAT scores. Will he be thwarted or can he somehow persuade the Stanford Dean of Admissions to reconsider within 24 hours? You guess. Colin Hanks and Schuyler Fisk bear an uncanny but not-unexpected resemblance to their respective parents, and family connections no doubt enticed Chevy Chase, Kevin Kline, Garry Marshall, Harold Ramis and Ben Stiller on-board for cameos. Amidst the pratfalls, there are a few goofy, mildly amusing moments - at the surfer's funeral where shapely mourners wear bikinis and when an English teacher (Mike White) proves himself nearly illiterate. So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Orange County" is a fresh, occasionally funny, but ultimately feeble 5. Sentimentality aside, having the right genes does help.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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