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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that despite the PG-13 rating there's a lot of material they may consider inappropriate. Abuse of alcohol and drugs is portrayed as normal and funny. While on drugs, a character drives dangerously, has casual sex, and sets a building on fire, also intended to be comic. Some kissing, including a same-sex kiss. A character is accidentally given drugs. Another pretends to be asleep so he can watch a couple have sex. Horrendous parenting by main character Shaun's parents is played for laughs. One character blackmails a friend by threatening to expose her slutty behavior.
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What's the story?
ORANGE COUNTY centers on Shaun Brumder (Colin Hanks), a high school senior whose mother (Catherine O'Hara) is an alcoholic, whose father (John Lithgow) is too busy making deals to pay any attention to him, and whose brother Lance (Jack Black) is a stoner "constantly recovering from the night before." Shaun also has a sweet, animal-loving girlfriend named Ashley (Schuyler Fisk). Shaun wants to be a writer and his dream is to go to Stanford because his idol, Marcus Skinner (Kevin Kline), teaches there. But when his addled college counselor (Lily Tomlin) sends the wrong transcript, he's rejected. So Shaun, Lance, and Ashley drive up to Stanford to meet with the director of admissions (Harold Ramis) to try to persuade him to let Shaun in. Unfortunately, they accidentally feed him some of Lance's drugs and burn down the Admissions Office. Eventually, Shaun spends a few moments with his idol and, like Dorothy, learns that there's no place like home.
Is it any good?
Hanks and Fisk, as the ostensible force of sanity at the heart of the movie, don't get much of a chance to prove themselves as actors, but they have some presence. Black, as always, even with terrible material, is a joy to watch. There are also talented actors in small roles -- including O'Hara, Lithgow, Tomlin, and Ramis, as well as Chevy Chase, Ben Stiller, and especially Kevin Kline, who has a very nice scene with Hanks.
This movie begins with a comic death in a surfing accident, followed by a funeral at which female mourners wear black bikinis. Drugs and drunkenness are rampant and casual. Slaptick gags include forgetting to give a sick man his medicine and then having a lot of things hit him on the head. Shaun is the straight man, surrounded by a horrendously dysfunctional family but loved by his stoner brother and supportive girfriend.
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