ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  jake kasdan

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  87 minutes

RELEASED  -  11 january 2002

DISTRIBUTOR  -  mtv films

OFFICIAL SITE  -  orange county

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $18,000,000
orange county - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from orange county at

buy the dvd from orange county at

a guidance counselor mistakenly sends out the wrong transcripts to stanford university under the name of an over-achieving high schooler.

shooting on this film took two and a half months.


picture from orange county

picture from orange county

picture from orange county


two out of four possible stars

It seems that the old adage "your parents are famous, so you can get into movies too" is true. Okay, that might not be an old adage, but as a sentence, it certainly applies here. Perhaps it's nice that these movie stars' kids are getting some employment, and it is possible that some of these people have some talent. And in Orange County there are points where some of that talent is on the screen. But it seems that the people cast in this film were not given a suitable outlet for their talent, because the script for this film is something that tries to be a unique and quirky teen comedy, but which is filled with a few too many cliché elements that make it just another teen movie.

The pedigree of the cast notwithstanding, this film does start out pretty entertaining, but it falls short of the mark about half way through the film when the weird people that populate this film go somewhat overboard. Just like a bad sunburn in the summer, everybody gets kind of annoying and you just want it to end. All the people who play Colin Hanks's family and friends are interesting at first, but their quirks and weirdness are the only things holding this film together. The plot is pretty weak, and even with the long list of great comedic talents in this film, it all gets kind of boring by the end. Of course, the one exception to that statement would probably be the presence of Jack Black in the film. Every second that he's on the screen is worth watching.

He carries his supporting role well here and it seems that Jack's performance as one of the supporting people plays better for him than did his leading role in Shallow Hal. wWth these two films, it's apparent that Black has perfected the "comedic sidekick" role very well, but has yet to iron out playing a leading role. In all honesty, the scenes that include Jack Black are very funny and are perhaps the best parts of this film. And it may be that in Shallow Hal, the story just wasn't a good fit for his acting abilities. It is interesting to note that not only are two of the main characters the offspring of fairly famous actors (Schuyler Fisk is the daughter of Sissy Spacek and Colin Hanks is the son of Tom Hanks).

The director is also the son of somebody famous. Jake Kasdan is the son of the highly famous Lawrence Kasdan. With a few directing credits to his name, it seems that Jake is trying to make a career in his father's business. And though the man may have some talent, this story did not do his talents any justice. Again, it's the script that doesn't hold water here. It begins with a lot of laughs, but loses steam near the mid-point. Of course, this might be the result of having a lack of a discernable plot. Sure, the basic premise is there (to see it, read the blurb under the poster on the right hand side of this review), but beyond that, the film is kind of stale. And this is perhaps ironic given the comedic talent thrown together for this film. It's almost incredible the amount of talented people that have roles.

Catherine O'Hara, John Lithgow, Lily Tomlin, Harold Ramis, Chevy Chase, Kevin Kline, Garry Marshall, Ben Stiller ... the cast list for this film looks like the presenter list at the academy awards. It would be interesting to know why all these people weren't aware of the sub-standard script and story to this film when the signed on for parts. Perhaps the producers were hoping that all this talent would make an otherwise ho-hum script into something genuinely funny. But after a while it just gets a little annoying. Really, these people are all the victims of a film whose script wasn't of the utmost importance. Perhaps it would be best to blame the director, he's the one whose responsibility it was to translate the script into a viable film.

Or perhaps the blame should be put on the producers, who got the funding for this project. Either way, nothing about it is especially awful, but it just doesn't make an impression of being too much of a smart vehicle for its stars, especially the young ones whose choices in film now will direct what parts they are given in the future. What this movie fails most from is a package whose parts do not equal its whole. The people in this film, even the sons and daughters of famous people, have definable talent. In all honesty, Hanks plays his role well. It's just that the film itself is sub-standard. Let's hope that films will follow this small effort will include more originality and better-written scripts.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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