Write out of Town
Orange County
Review by Ross Anthony

Shaun Brumder is your typical Californian H.S. senior, easily distracted by his surfin', fun-loving, but brainless, buds. One day at the beach, Shaun digs up a book from the sand and reads it fifty-two times. From then on, inspired to be a writer, he spends the rest of the movie trying to get to Stanford University so that he can study under the book's author. "Maybe there's more to life than extreme sport," Shaun conjectures. Unfortunately, just about everything and everyone haphazardly derail his entrance into Stanford.

Though MTV's "Orange County" definitely targets the youth, and yes, indulges in some drug-related scenes (that would be Jack Black, Shaun's wasted brother), the film refreshingly offers up a main character with a respectable, undying drive to further his education. Further, Colin Hanks plays the role flawlessly and sympathetically, despite (and because of) intentionally exaggerated emotional moments. In fact, director Jake Kasdan does a fine job of keeping the ball rolling amidst a ragtag ensemble of purposely cartoony, yet lovable characters (some big names in the mix).

The result is a light, good-humored comedy, hosting a warm fuzzy message. So if you aren't too put off by some drug references, a few sexual implications (nothing graphic), dysfunctional family antics, and a puke shot ... you might want to try this silly, yet substantially entertaining little picture.

Lily Tomlin is marvelous as the inept H.S. counselor. But, Colin Hanks' scene with father (John Lithgow) will strike a resonating harmonic beat of uncanny truth inside anyone who's ever dared bare frail vocational dreams to unimpressed parents.

Hanks' "I want to be a writer!"
Lithgow, "A writer? What do you have to write? You're not oppressed? You're not gay? Besides you'll never make any money that way."
Hanks' "I don't care about the money."
Hanks' remark hits Lithgow like a snowstorm on Newport Beach - it just doesn't compute.

Harold Ramos (who plays Stanford's Dean) says of Hanks' "I wasn't familiar with his work, but I found that he had this wonderful quality, almost like a young Jimmy Steward or Henry Fonda. He's got a real honesty and decency." "Orange County's" tight, funny, well-rounded screenplay is penned by Mike White who ironically plays the illiterate H.S. English teacher, "It's got lots of big words, so good for you. And I didn't read the whole thing because it was so long, but who cares because I gave you an "A"!"

  • Orange County. Copyright © 2002. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Colin Hanks, Kyle Howard, RJ Knoll, Brett Harrison, Schuyler Fisk, Mike White, Jack Black, Lily Tomlin, George Murdock, Catherine O'Hara, John Lithgow, Harold Ramos.
  • Directed by Jake Kasdan.
  • Screenplay by Mike White.
  • Produced by Scott Rudin, Van Toffler, David Gale, Scott Aversano at MTV/Paramount.


Copyright © 2002. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:01:37 PDT