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Orange County (12A)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by writer Mike White and director Jake Kasdan; Deleted scenes with optional commentary track; 15 interstitials; Theatrical trailer.

ORANGE County may sound like your average teen rights-of-passage movie, but peel away its layers and there is much more within.

For starters, it has been put together by a cast and director who would seem destined for great things (we'll explain why in a moment), it features a wealth of cameos (Ben Stiller and Kevin Kline, to name but two) and its trailer offers the welcome possibility of seeing Jack Black back on High Fidelity form (after his disappointment with Shallow Hal).

But as enjoyable as it is in places, the movie never really escapes the feeling that it would best be appreciated after a few beers on a Saturday night, when its infantile, laddish behaviour will strike a chord with its target audience.

Pity then, that it largely squanders the potential of its main performers, for the movie is directed by Jake Kasdan - whose impressive debut feature, the little known Zero Effect, had critics drooling, and who happens to be the son of Laurence - and its two central stars are Colin Hanks, son of Tom, and Schuyler Fisk, daughter of Oscar-nominee Sissy Spacek.

The plot concerns Hanks's attempts to get into Yale and thereby escape his dysfunctional family. The placement seems certain at the start of the film, given the student's high IQ, but an administration error prompts his refusal and Hanks is forced to travel there himself - with girlfriend and screw-up brother in tow - to plead his case before it is too late.

So far, so Road Trip. And yet, there really is nothing more to it, save for trying to guess where the next cameo is coming from and counting down the minutes to the realisation that Hanks's family isn't so bad after all and that true love will conquer all.

Orange County is really a banana-skin of a movie. From its trailer, it looks fairly appetising and there are moments when it fulfils its criteria.

But it eventually slips up under the weight of its own expectation. Hanks is not endearing enough to carry the film alone, while Black's best moments are contained in the trailer.

The cameos are fun and there are plenty of movie in-jokes for the keener observer, but on the whole you get the feeling that this could have been a great deal better. It is, in the final analysis, strictly lightweight fare.

SOUNDTRACK SPOTLIGHT: The soundtrack, featuring the likes of Defy You (by Offspring), The One (Foo Fighters), Butterfly (Crazytown), Everything's Cool (Lit), and California (Phantom Planet), as well as material from Pete Yorn, Cake and Sugarbomb, is well worth a listen.

It taps into the sun-drenched, Californian surfer-dude culture rather well.

 

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