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Have you ever wondered why some critics review films? They don't even seem to like movies that much from what they write. I LOVE movies, and think about them long after the last credits roll across the screen. My reviews are meant to inform, entertain and never have a spoiler.
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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Orange County

I have rented five of the movies my 18-year old niece suggested I watch (henceforth to be recognized as "recommended by Julia"), so here is a review of the first one.

Orange County refers to the affluent county on the ocean directly south of Los Angeles, recently made famous by the television series The O.C., which takes place in and around Newport Beach. Orange County is about Shaun, a senior in high school who loves surfing, and yet keeps up with his school studies. He decides he wants to be a writer after finding and reading a book half buried in the sand on the beach.

When the school guidance counselor sends the wrong transcript to Stanford with his application, he is denied admission. Shaun's quest to get into Stanford becomes an obsession, one which involves his older brother Lance, played by Jack Black. Lance spends most of the film in his underwear, has a parole officer, and is stoned most of the time. He also provides for most of the laughter in this film. Shaun's family is dysfunctional and dramatic, with an alcoholic mother (Catherine O'Hara), and estranged father (John Lithgow). Shaun is embarrassed of them, and yet by the end of the film, he realizes that though flawed, they truly support him and his dreams.

Shaun eventually comes to the conclusion that he can achieve his dream of becoming a writer no matter where he attends school, but not until a series of escapades on the Stanford campus lead him to meet the author who has so inspired him.

This film was written by Mike White who also wrote The Good Girl, an excellent movie about a woman (Jennifer Aniston) who feels trapped in her life. I personally liked The Good Girl better. It's more an adult movie, and Orange County with it's PG-13 rating, appeals more to the teenage/college age group.

Which brings me to why this film would appeal to teens. Shaun's finding a book that propels him into a productive future is the sign that teens are also looking for; something that will help them answer the questions: What am I here for? What am I to do with my life? How do I find my way? These questions are answered for Shaun by the end of the movie, and I think teens would find this a hopeful film with lots of comedy and characters that mirror the crazy people we all know in real life.

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