"This film won't change your life. Well maybe if you’re from Orange County"
Sometimes when you go to film expecting the absolute worst, you’re happy to be wrong. I’m not claiming Orange County will thrill your mind with whirl-pooling subplots and drama circle awards, but it’s not as bad as you might think.Shaun Brumder (Hanks) really wants to get out of Orange County and go to Stanford. His dysfunctional family doesn’t understand why he would ever want to leave. When Shaun fails to get into Stanford—even the high school cheerleaders and a stoner get in; hilarity ensues as he sets out to prove himself worthy of the school.
The first surprise is the genuine caliber of the actors featured. Jack Black is not the center of the film. Perhaps the marketing department felt that if they told audiences that John Lithgow, Harold Ramis and Chevy Chase make appearances, teens would furrow their brows in non-recognition. Or even worse, boycott theaters for trying to resurrect actors who appeared in anything in the far off decade of the 1980’s. Please. Catherine O’Hara is perfect as the typical Orange County bed dwelling, maid firing, drunk-at-9:00am mother. O’Hara continues to be one of the most under appreciated actors currently working. Lily Tomlin’s turn as a guidance counselor echoes her Phone Operator character with spot-on results.
Colin Hanks, yes that Hanks, possesses that indefinable quality of his father, a kind of every-man Jimmy Stewart feel. Hanks performance lends surfer-come-novelist Shaun Brumder an authenticity not often found in teen films. Ashley (Schuyler Fisk) Shaun’s girlfriend, is refreshingly three-dimensional erasing the necessity for the teen girlfriend in flicks to resemble a vacuous puff.
The best supporting character? That miserable song “Butterfly” by Crazy Town, which makes impeccable audio appearances to describe the character on screen.
Perhaps what I found most amusing is the accurate depiction of Southern California life. The guy sitting next to me, born and raised in Anaheim described the movie as a documentary. Despite the amusing nature of the cameos and featured performances, this film will not change your life. Well maybe if you’re from Orange County.Don’t forget that Orange County is an MTV film. That moniker seems to require inanity and ruthless over-promotion. Still, the level of self-mockery that pervades the plot provides a fun relief from ordinary life. Wasn’t that what comedies were supposed to do in the first place?