A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Oranges hits some interesting notes about life, marriage, and more, but much of the material may be too heavy for younger teens. The plot centers around an adult who falls for his best friend's daughter, who happens to have been his own daughter's childhood pal. There isn't any nudity (though viewers do hear the sounds of a sex toy in use), but the situations between them are cringe-worthy. There's some swearing ("f--k," "s--t," etc.) and drinking, and a twentysomething woman is shown smoking pot.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
David (Hugh Laurie) and his wife, Paige (Catherine Keener), are unhappily married in New Jersey, hanging onto their vows by just a few threads. Their daughter, Vanessa (Alia Shawkat), is one of them; underemployed at a store and dreaming of one day designing furniture instead of selling it, she's a reason David and Paige are holding on. Besides, they live across the street from their best friends, Carol (Allison Janney) and Terry (Oliver Platt); their friendship makes their tenuous marriage bearable ... until Carol and Terry's estranged daughter, Nina (Leighton Meester), shows up one day after years of staying on the West Coast. Carol hopes to set Nina up with David's son, Toby (Adam Brody). But it's David she falls for, and he can't resist.
Is it any good?
THE ORANGES is rooted in an interesting concept -- that things sometimes fall apart because they're meant to, and the chaos could actually lead to happiness. But executing on this premise requires a dexterity that few filmmakers possess. Director Julian Farino has a light touch that allows the story to breathe, but it's so featherweight that the film winds up without as much heft as it should.
The Oranges begins with Terry and David together, grounding it in their friendship, and yet the film spends little more than a cursory scene or two to examine how David's actions have impacted them. Same for Vanessa and Nina, who were childhood best friends. You'd think a plot like this would necessitate more time with them both in the same scene. But the biggest flaw is having Meester play Nina. She does a serviceable job, but there's little chemistry between her and Laurie. (Imagine if Nina were Kate Winslet, instead.) And Laurie. Poor Laurie. He's wonderful, as always, but oh how we wish his David had Dr. House's bite.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Oranges' central premise. Do you think it's true that sometimes the most unpopular decisions, the most destructive ones, can lead to enlightenment? Happiness?
What attracts Nina to David, and vice versa? Does the movie condone their choices? Does it address how people outside of a marriage are affected by their indiscretion?
Are the characters -- and their choices -- realistic? What do you think the main take-away is intended to be?
- In theaters: October 5, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: May 7, 2013
- Cast: Allison Janney, Catherine Keener, Hugh Laurie, Oliver Platt
- Director: Julian Farino
- Studio: ATO Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Friendship
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language including sexual references and some drug use
- Last updated: November 25, 2019
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