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The West Wing
ORANGE COUNTY, 2002
Starring: Colin Hanks, Jack Black, Schulyer Fisk, Catherine O'Hara, John Lithgow, Chevy Chase
Shaun is a surfer who aspires to go to Stanford University and become a writer. His plans go haywire when his guidance counselor sends in the wrong transcript and Shaun gets rejected. Now, with the help of his girlfriend and stoner brother, he'll try anything to convince the school to let him in. REVIEW:
You just gotta love it when a plan comes together... or, in this case, becomes torn apart at the seams and yet somehow, in a round about way, comes back to a strange hybrid of what the original plan was meant to be.
Shaun is a high school surfer who's also an over-achieving genius. He scored over 1500 on his SATs, gets all A's, and wants to attend Stanford University and become a writer... partly so he can leave his dysfunctional family behind. Unfortunately for him, he gets a rejection letter from Stanford. Dumbfounded, he goes looking for answers on why he was rejected and discovers that his lethargic guidance counselor sent in the wrong transcript!
Deciding there has to be a way in, Shaun embarks on a journey with his girlfriend Ashley and his stoner older brother Lance as the three travel to Stanford to try and get Shaun accepted to the school.
They arrive at the university after hours and are told to leave. They decide that their task must be accomplished ASAP and that they can't wait for the next morning. The new plan is to hunt down the dean of admissions for Shaun to talk his way in. And hilarity ensues.
Lance finds the info they need by sneaking into the dean's office (very UN-ninja like) to get the address and has to sleep with the secretary to get the info he needs (and burns down the office in the process). Once the group finds the Dean, they're able to convince him that Shaun should indeed go to school here, but misfire again when they accidentally drug him!
“Orange County” is absolutely hilarious! There are pretty much non-stop laughs from opening credits to end credits. Some of this can be attributed to the situational comedy that is unique and funny and you won't see coming until it's here. Some of it is the simple slapstick and physical comedy provided by Jack Black in what is probably the best role of his career other than Po in “Kung Fu Panda”. And yet more of the comedy comes from the well written and very witty comedic dialogue. You're basically getting slapped in the face with humor for a full 82 minutes!
On the flip side, there is also some really great dramatic moments in this film as well! Shaun having to deal with the rift between his divorced parents and having his whole life seemingly crumble before his eyes with only his girlfriend being a strong pillar to lean on really makes you feel for him as a character. And in the final scenes, I'll admit, I was THIS CLOSE to shedding a tear!
The film is excellently acted all around! Every character is believable in their own way (even when doing unbelievable things like Jack Black ninja-ing his way into the Dean's office). Even the bit parts have their place in this film and hold their own as being solid foundation for the primary plot points and characters to build from.
The script/story are just amazing (something that can seldom be said of a situational comedy). There are plot twists throughout the film that make you smack yourself for not seeing the buildup to those moments. The story itself is original and creative and fun to watch.
The cinematography was not “ground breaking” by any means, but there were some very cool shots and a whole sequence near the beginning with a steadycam that kept slanting around for dutch angles while in movement.
“Orange County” is a great and totally underrated film that deserves to be watched for it's hilarity and story. It's one that a lot of people haven't seen (for whatever reason) but totally should. It might not be on par with “The Hangover”, but it certainly beats out most other road trip comedies that are out there!
I give “Orange Count” a 4 out of 5.
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