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Colin Hanks as Shaun Brumder; Jack Black as Lance Brumder; Catherine O’Hara as Cindy Beugler; Schuyler Fisk as Ashley; John Lithgow as Bud Brumder; Lily Tomlin as Charlotte Cobb
Jake Kasdan
Paramount Pictures
Bob Smithouser
Orange County

Orange County

Do teens really need another coming-of-age comedy that plumbs for laughs with vomit, necking lesbians and urine being mistaken for an alcoholic beverage? The makers of Orange County think so.

After one of his stoner surfing buddies dies in a tsunami wipeout, Southern Californian Shaun Brumder (played by Tom Hanks’ son, Colin) has a take-stock moment: "Maybe there’s more to life than extreme sports and trying to get laid." He stumbles upon a novel and is so taken by it that he sets his sights on attending Stanford to study writing under its author.

If nothing else, the trip north would help Shaun escape his family, a caricature of selfish dysfunction. His promiscuous, pyromaniac parolee brother (Black) is a recreational drug fiend. His workaholic dad has abandoned the family and married a girl half his age. Desperate to keep Shaun from leaving town, Mom (O’Hara) is a manipulative, batty lush remarried to an incapacitated meal ticket.

Everyone is miserable. But only Shaun has a plan to make things better—that is until a guidance counselor sends the wrong transcript to his college of choice. In panicked desperation (and with apparently no faith in a simple phone call) Shaun goes to wild lengths to fix the problem. He eventually decides that home is where he finds inspiration, and chooses to stay there.

Despite some half-hearted moralizing about misplaced priorities and learning to accept one’s family, Orange County (directed by Lawrence Kasdan’s son, Jake) still needs therapy, mistaking illness for mere quirkiness. Profanity, sexual content and drug humor squeeze this movie deeper into the pits.