Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Film Review | Orange County (2002)

Netflix came to me at the right point in time, even though I already have this film on DVD. Instead of having to manually put the disc into my Playstation (I know, how very strenuous of me), I can just fire up Netflix, and binge watch Orange County continuously to my heart's content. Which judging by the fact that I have seen this film three times in the past month, I can honestly say that I now understand how addictive Netflix actually.

But Netflix wasn't the reason for my now undying love for this film. It all goes back to my first viewing of a music video by none other than Foo Fighters, in the form of 'The One'. In that video, Dave Grohl re-enacts some of Jack Black's scenes, and some other scenes from the movie are interplayed into the video as well. Ever since then I've been meaning to get around to watching it. My DVD had been sitting on my shelf for months before I realized I still hadn't seen it. Then somehow, I managed to figure out that Tom Hanks' son, Colin Hanks was in the movie and then I just had to watch it. 

Orange Countydirected by Jake Kasdan and written by Mike White - follows the penultimate day (or two) in the life of Shaun Brumder (Colin Hanks). Brumder has a life revelation in the form of a book called 'Straightjacket' that he finds buried on the beach. It's this book that changes his aspirations from pro-surfer to aspiring writer, moved along by the untimely passing of one of his buddy’s due to a surfing accident. Through this, he's determined to get into Stanford to study alongside his hero - the writer of 'Straightjacket' - Marcus Skinner. It's obvious that Brumder is going to get in - that is until we find out that his high school counselor sent the wrong transcript and scores under his name. To try and get his place back at the college of his dreams, he enlists the help of his animal-loving girlfriend (Schuyler Fisk) and stoner brother Lance (Jack Black) to travel up to Stanford to set his future straight.

What seems to be a running theme with me and films that I end up loving is that this got mid to negative reviews when it first came out. Mainly from it being viewed as 'another teen movie'. Which it truly isn't. Films like American Pie are teen movies, and Orange County is so far away from that. It's in the genre that I don't have a name for, but shares it with some other favourite films of mine like The Way Way Back and Goats. 

I thought overall it was a bearable length, had extremely good pacing and a witty script that really encapsulated the time and feel of California itself. The story line is supposed to occur over the span of two days. Which is plausible with the added 7-hour road trip from Orange County to Stanford. Yes, I Google mapped how long it would be to see if they could do that.

One of my favourite aspects of the film is that Brumder's transcript seems to move along with the film, with the ending that he can't seem to be able to write coming to him at the resolution of the movie. Sure, the film had a simple storyline, but in this case, simple is best. It made the film much more realistic and in turn, relatable.

I connected to this film on a personal level, seeing as I'm at the same point in life as Brumder is in the film and share the same state of mind. I'm at University and enjoying it in terms of broadening my knowledge and learning all these amazing things, but it's literally the same as College. No one acts like adults. No one has matured. Everyone acts as though you're at Uni to have a good time and get drunk, not study. Which is what Brumder sees when he goes up to Stanford and attends one of the parties, with the girls freaking out over 'Butterfly' by Crazy Town and doing the same dance that the cheerleaders were doing to it at his High School. It's nice to see that White was able to encapsulate this so well through the writing, because it is heartbreaking to feel mature and grown up, to see that everyone else hasn't quite caught up with you yet.

I can safely say that I would happily open up Netflix (or my DVD) right now, and watch this again. It's slowly becoming one of my comfort films, which has a killer soundtrack. Not only because of Foo Fighters, it's a real nostalgia trip which I'm all for. 
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