Plot – A guidance counsellor mistakenly sends out the wrong transcripts to Stanford University under the name of an over-achieving high schooler – Orange County.
Director – Jake Kasdan
Released – 2002
Orange County may not be as funny or over-the-top as American Pie, but that is necessarily a bad thing, balancing out the ridiculousness and over-the-top gags with characters that share clear objectives that go beyond wanting sex or money, a refreshing change of pace for this type of movie, backed up by some wonderful performances, especially from leads from Jack Black and in his first leading role, Colin Hanks.
Don’t get me wrong: Orange County isn’t a perfect film, there’s a reason it’s largely overlooked when talking about late 90s/early 00s teen-comedies, namely the lack of laugh-out-loud moments makes them less memorable than the likes of Road Trip, The Girl Next Door or Euro Trip and despite Hanks’ best efforts, the main character, Shaun still felt a little undeveloped for a move wanted to ditch humour in favour of storytelling, with the same to be said for Jack Black’s character Lance. We all know how good his comic timing is and here is no exception, relegated to comic relief for large portions of the movie. You can’t help but find this a waste of his wider dramatic talents. The standout performance for me was Catherine O’Hara, who did a spectacular job as Shaun’s semi-functional mother, while John Lithgow, Kevin Kline, Leslie Mann, and Chevy Chase help bring some star quality to this production. It’s also fun to see Ben Stiller and Lizzy Caplan pop up in cameo roles.
Orange County would never change the cause of comedy-cinema and isn’t deserving of cult following. But the actors do an outstanding job with that they’re given, and you can find comfort in repeat viewings.
If you liked: Blue Crush, The King of Staten Island, Dude, Where’s My Car?