Film REVIEW: Bland script brings down an empty 'Orange County'

Some movies are absolutely worth paying the outrageous price that movie tickets go for, but others, such as Jake Kasdan’s new film “”Orange County,”” are better left for lazy afternoons of boredom and free cable. A fairly decent idea for a movie is ruined by a horrible script and bad direction. The film also lacks a solid performance from its lead and could not be saved by an adequate supporting cast en route to movie hell as a horrible picture.

The movie follows Shawn Brumder (Colin Hanks) on his mission to get into Stanford University. Shawn is an ex-surfer who reformed his slacker ways when he found a book in the sand written by Marcus Skinner (Kevin Kline), a professor at Stanford. The book inspired Shawn to get his act together and apply himself academically so that he could get into Stanford and work with his newfound idol. A mix-up causes Shawn to get rejected from the school, prompting a two-day quest to right the wrong and gain admittance. Helping him on his quest are his animal rights activist girlfriend Ashley (Schuyler Fisk) and his perpetually stoned brother Lance (Jack Black).

While there was absolutely no hope for this to be a good movie, the concept itself isn’t bad. The writing and direction did this movie in. The script is an awful piece of garbage that plays out more like a sitcom than an actual movie. Mike White, the writer of “”Orange County,”” has also written for television’s “”Freaks & Geeks,”” which would explain why the movie played out like a stretched episode of Fox’s latest attempt at a comedy series. The direction was completely disappointing because Kasdan failed to utilize the surroundings to maximize his shots.

Hanks had moments during the film –though they were few and far between –when he was actually decent on screen. Most of the time he was as whiny as a 12-year-old school girl with a skinned knee. He simply was not believable, which did not bode well for him because the dialogue that he was delivering wasn’t that great in the first place.

Black did all that he could with what he was given. He was absolutely hilarious at times as a walking drugstore with a collection that would make Hunter S. Thompson proud. The only knock on his role would be that it is one that he has played several times before. Black once again plays the high-octane sidekick inserted for comic relief, as he did in both “”High Fidelity”” and “”Saving Silverman.”” While he does a great job in the role, the characters are all very one-dimensional and good only for comedic value.

The movie also features big-name actors and actresses in smaller parts. Catherine O’Hara and John Lithgow play Hanks’ parents while Lily Tomlin, Chevy Chase, Garry Marshall, Harold Ramis and Kline all make appearances. Unfortunately, not even these veterans can save this movie.

Even the so-called standby physical gags that recent movies have used so often did not elicit a favorable response from the audience.

The few laughs that the movie does deliver fall miserably short of making up for the overall waste of the hour-and-a-half that the film is.

Orange County


Starring Colin Hanks, Schuyler Fisk and Jack Black

In theaters Jan. 11

Rated PG-13