Teen comedy starring Tom Hanks's son Colin Hanks as Shaun, a high school kid desperate to leave behind his mind-numbing life in Southern California, land of surf dudes and affluent ranch-dwelling lifestyles. He has set his heart on studying creative writing at Stanford with acclaimed author Martin Skinner (Kevin Kline), and knows he's bright enough - so when he gets a rejection letter he is furious, and after a bit of detective work realises that his school sent the wrong papers to the university. He then proceeds to enlist the help of his dysfunctional parents (Catherine O'Hara and John Lithgow), his girlfriend Ashley (Schuyler Fisk) and his stoner brother Lance (Jack Black) to set the record straight and enable his escape from his hitherto braindead existence.
While it invites charges of Hollywood nepotism, Orange County
overcomes that stigma with a delightful cast of newcomers and veterans alike. It's no better or worse than many teen comedies, but director Jake Kasdan (son of director Lawrence Kasdan) astutely combines teen-flick staples (stoner gags, raucous parties) with a biting undercurrent of southern California absurdity. This comedic texture helps Colin Hanks (son of Tom) and Schuyler Fisk (daughter of Sissy Spacek) to prove their big-screen promise. They play (respectively) an Orange County teen and aspiring writer named Shaun who yearns for admission to Stanford, and his sensible girlfriend who knows just how to nurture his dreams. Much of the comedy arises from the foibles of Shaun's dysfunctional family (played to perfection by Jack Black, Catherine O'Hara and John Lithgow), while unbilled cameos by Ben Stiller and Kevin Kline add zest to a movie that tries to be different, and mostly succeeds. --Jeff Shannon
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