Orange County

Reviewed By PyThomas
Posted 01/02/03 14:02:29

"Slick, formulaic, half-predictable... then again, so is the county itself."
3 stars (Average)

Show me a city with tons of cool attractions, really picturesque scenery, or miles of seemingly endless beaches, and I'll show you a resident of that city who's bored sick of everything in it. Indeed, that's how it was with me and my hometown of Galveston, but this film ain't called "Galveston County".

It's got everything to do with Orange County, that white-bread collection of towns just southeast of Los Angeles. (Since it's in California, would that make it white PITA bread?) Home to Disneyland, Taco Bell, baseball's Angels, hockey's Mighty Ducks, shopping malls out the ass, a dozen surfwear companies and lots of Reagan Youth. Then again, it IS home to the Offspring and No Doubt. (Hey, any friend of Sublime is a friend of mine.) Sounds like a cool place to live... until you meet someone who was born and raised there.

Poor Shaun Brumder (Colin "Son of Gump" Hanks). He's so sick and tired of that Orange County life, with all the shallowness and vapidness surrounding him. And despite having a non-shallow, non-vapid girlfriend (Schuyler "Daughter of Carrie" Fisk), he wants to get out real bad, and his college choice is a hell of an opportunity. His only choice for higher education is Stanford, miles away in the Bay Area, but all his enrollment efforts turn up futile. His high school transcripts get lost in the system, an interview with an influential Stanford alumnus is spoiled by his embarrassing family members, and he can't seem to get in touch with a professor (Kevin "You'd Think I'd Be Tired Of Playing College Professors By Now" Kline) who could probably help get him in. Ultimately Shaun, his girlfriend Ashley, and his stoned-n-sloppy brother Lance (Jack "Tenacious D" Black), take a road trip up to Stanford to put his transcripts personally in the right hands. When they finally arrive at Shaun's "promised land", though, he finds out that it's not all that it's cracked up to be.

"Orange County" would have been a better-than-average comedy, especially considering all the schlock out there that passes for comedy. Though the supporting characters seem two-dimensional, the leads are totally fleshed out (Shaun's a surfer who - whoa! - doesn't talk like Bill & Ted) and the script does take quite a few smart turns. BUT - and there's a big BUT - the writers just HAD to throw in a horrible cliche as old as the Laguna Hills: a breakup scene between Shaun and Ashley, later followed by the usual groveling of the man in the relationship, the old "I'm sorry, I love you" routine. There was just no reason for that - it was totally unnecessary to the plot, and to make matters worse, it really looked like it was shoehorned into the script at the last minute. Is there an unwritten law in Hollywood that all comedies involving relationships HAVE to include a storyline like that? After seeing this, I'm really beginning to believe so.

So yeah, this is a great film that, because of one little fuck-up, gets bumped down to being just a good film. Somebody needs to tell these script writers that you don't HAVE to use the tired old cliches anymore.

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