Vanessa (Shawkat) is still living at home after graduating from college, both desperate and fearful of leaving her barely-still-together parents David (Laurie) and Paige (Keener). Across the road lives David's best friend Terry (Platt) with his wife Carol (Alison Janney) and their newly single daughter Nina (Leighton Meester). It's Thanksgiving, all the families are getting together, and Carol is desperate to set Nina up with David's home-for-the-holidays son, Toby (Adam Brody). Instead, after one drink too many, Nina winds up kissing David, and what begins as a behind-closed-doors affair turns into a full blown relationship, much to the horror of both families.
Director Julian Farino has made his career in directing episodes of famous TV shows (Sex and The City, Entourage, The US Office) and for better or worse, it really shows here. Reminiscent of other, better movies - both American Beauty and The Family Stone come to mind - The Oranges suffers from its formulaic plot and underdeveloped characters. Had this been a TV show, each person would've been given enough time to make their characters believable, but instead we have a 90 minute movie trying to juggle too many individual plots at once. Plus, try as they might, the central romance between Nina and David is just plain creepy, and one that nobody in the movie seems to react properly to.
On the plus side, Farino has amassed a fantastic cast, and they all do very well with what little they've been given. It's nice to see Hugh Laurie for the first time properly since House took over his career. Keener, Janney, Brody and Platt all do well with roles we've seen them all do versions of before, and Alia Shawkat still has a wicked way of making everything sound sarcastic. But placed front and centre of the movie is Leighton Meester, still trying to build a career on the back of Gossip Girl, and she goes some way to redeem her generally unlikeable, home-wrecking character.
But all in all this is just another dysfunctional-family comedy that we've seen a million times before, but never quite done this blandly.
Review by Rory Cashin | 15:23 | Tuesday 27th November 2012 | Movie Review