Orange County
Life's a beach. Shaun and Ashley (Hanks and Fisk) enjoy the sun and sand while it lasts.
dir Jake Kasdan
scr Mike White
with Colin Hanks, Schuyler Fisk, Jack Black, Catherine O'Hara, John Lithgow, Kyle Howard, RJ Knoll, Leslie Mann, Jane Adams, Lily Tomlin, Mike White, Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, Garry Marshall, Ben Stiller, Kevin Kline
release US 11.Jan.02; UK 8.Nov.02
Paramount 02/US 1h22

2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
not just a place, a state of mind This odd hybrid wants to be both a wacky teen comedy and a poignant coming-of-age drama, and while it never quite bridges the gap between the two, it's still consistently entertaining. In suburban, coastal L.A., Shaun (Hanks) is the nice-guy star student. He gets straight A's, has a caring environmentalist girlfriend (Fisk), two goodhearted surfer dudes (Howard and Knoll) for best buddies, and is sure he'll get accepted to Stanford for next year. Then there's his family: drunken mother (O'Hara), drugged-out brother (Black), workaholic father (Lithgow), bimbo stepmom (Mann). If anything is going to wreck his Stanford application--his one chance to get out of Orange County--they'll be it.

There are moments of inspired comedy throughout the film, and these keep us going during the lame bits in between--sequences that simply aren't funny or clever ... or anything. There's a general lack of subtlety--the filmmakers try too hard to be zany or meaningful and rarely get either right. But the cast grab hold of every little morsel and work it perfectly. Hanks and Fisk are very good--charming and edgy and more than a little like their famous parents (Tom Hanks and Sissy Spacek). Black is a bit too obnoxious--intentionally so--but he still creates a memorable character. Meanwhile, veterans O'Hara and Lithgow are of course terrific in their larger roles, while others shine in scene-stealing cameos. And while it's definitely enjoyable on several layers, in the end the film is also far too corny for its own good. Not to mention too sweet and touching for a film that's trying so hard to be hip and cool.
themes, language cert 12 18.Feb.02

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2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall