With all the dreary heaviness that you get during fest time (not that I’m complaining), sometimes you need a nice comedy to brighten your spirits. THE ORANGES was one of those refreshing turns – fun, maybe forgettable, but still a refreshing drink in the middle of more somber fare.
Set in the upper middle class ‘burbs of New Jersey, the film is a mix of high and low brow company. Two families that live across from each other, doing everything together from holiday celebrations to morning exercising, are torn asunder when the patriarch of one family (Hugh Laurie) is seduced by the neighbour’s daughter (Leighton Meester).
With fine turns by an ensemble that includes Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt and Allison Janney, as well as the ever lovely Alia Shawkat (she of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT fame), THE ORANGES proceeds in a predictable yet satisfying fashion. Only Adam Brody as the brother seems a little out of his element, but he’s used sparingly and in a quite forgettable fashion. Meanwhile, Laurie is quite excellent in the film role (complete with spot-on HOUSE-evolved NJ accent). His mix of dark comedy and gravitas anchors the film, the tone of the entire work buttressed by his fine turn. THE ORANGES does well to both explore the obvious moral outrage while dealing honestly with the attraction (and challenges) of such Spring/Fall romances, regardless of neighbouring fraternal connections.
Farino’s debut (he’s been a TV director for years, helming shows like THE OFFICE and ENTOURAGE) is a charming film. THE ORANGES deserves a wider audience than its likely to receive, and while it maybe unfortunately hampered in a crowded box office, it will hopefully find its fans beyond the multiplex.