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Orange County Supplies No Vitamin C

Bland as tapioca pudding

Everyone in my high school wanted to go to Harvard; Yale was considered a safety school. Some resigned themselves to a steady State school or respectable liberal arts college. The self-indulgent geek Shaun Brumder, the main character of the movie Orange County, won't settle for anything less than Stanford University. He covets an acceptance letter like starving prepubescent wanna-be gymnast girls covet an Olympic gold-medal.

Shaun (a lanky, unattractive Colin Hanks- son of Tom) thinks attending Stanford will save him somehow (he needs to get over himself). When, by the accident and cruelty of fate, he gets rejected - he tries to drown himself in the self-pity of his swimming pool. If this was truly a great movie- Sally Struthers would have strolled on in and told him he was pathetic and that there were children all over the world who were starving and had horrible diseases like leprosy and AIDS. But that, unfortunately, didn't happen here.

Instead Shaun asks his daddy (John Lithgow) to donate money to the school to get him in and his bleeding-heart liberal girlfriend, Ashley (Schuyler Fisk), tries pulling some strings for him. Even his drugged out yet lovable big bro Lance (the wild and crazy Jack Black) goes out on a limb for him and drives him up to Palo Alto, where he stalks the admissions department and does some soul-searching.

One of the funniest scenes occurs when Shaun and his girlfriend accidentally give an admissions counselor at Stanford three hits of ecstasy and good feelings abound. Kudos also go to actress Catherine O'Hara in portraying Shaun's nutjob mom whom has a very funny drunken episode in front of important guests.

Despite some laughs and well-timed slapstick humor, Orange County, is as bland as tapioca pudding. It turns what sounds like an interesting title and what could have been full of quirky characters into a soulless, braindead creation. The best moments are those which feature the supporting cast, which includes a surprisingly high number of cameos by first-class comedians such as: Chevy Chase as a horny high school principal, Lily Tomlin as a dense guidance counselor and John Lithgow as Shaun's brash father. There should have been more of Jack Black- who only seemed to bounce into scenes randomly only to spurt some humorous nonsense and then bounce right back out.

Furthermore, Orange County has one of the dumbest endings of all time which felt as if it was re-edited as then slapped on after the execs at MTV Productions insisted on having something feel-good rather than realistic. Along those lines, the flick has a horrible MTV TRL soundtrack (MTV's web site actually has a section in which you can find out about actor Colin Hanks fav music).

The oddest credit goes to writer Mike White. How the hell do you go from writing something like Chuck and Buck to something as bland, boring and basic as Orange County? I guess his stint as a writer for Dawson's Creek crept up from the past and the strange, uncomfortable and decidedly UN-mainstream Chuck and Buck was the oddball. Or maybe White just needed the money- badly.

This movie runs more like a love poem to Stanford and is better off being rented by second-semester high school seniors anxiously waiting to hear back from colleges.


Orange County
Rated PG-13
1 hours 23 minutes

Colin Hanks
Jack Black
John Lithgow
Catherine O'Hara
Leslie Mann
Schuyler Fisk
Lily Tomlin
Harold Ramis