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Orange County

Orange County

At first glance, Orange County appears to be just another goofy teen flick, but then it turns into much more.  Don't get me wrong, it still has its share of drugs, bodily functions, and adults who are portrayed as dolts, but that is not all.

A new generation of stars-in-the-making headed by director Jake Kasdan (Lawrence's son), Colin Hank's (Tom's look-alike son) and Schuyler Fisk (Sissy Spacek's daughter) star as high school seniors growing up in laid-back Orange County, California.

Shawn Brumder (Hanks) spends his time surfing with spaced-out friends, dating his loyal girlfriend Ashley (Fisk) and sporadically attending classes.

But, all that changes the day he finds a novel buried on the beach.  Marcus Skinner's (Kevin Klein) book is the kind that changes young lives, and after numerous readings, Shawn decides to become a writer like his idol.

He drops surfing and devotes his time to bringing up his grades so he can get into Stanford.  He also has another reason for wanting to go away to college, his dysfunctional family.  His mother (Catherine O'Hara) is an alcoholic, his divorced father (John Litgow) has a young babe and doesn't have time for him, and his older brother, Lance (played by Jack Black, who always makes me laugh) is a drugged out loser.

The bulk of the movie has Shawn trying to get the college to change its mind when they turn down his application.  It seems that his ditzy guidance counselor (Lily Tomlin) mistakenly sent someone else's transcript with Shawn's name on it.  So Shawn, joined by Ashley and eager-for-anything Lance go on a quest to Stanford's campus.

A number of stars make cameo appearances.  Chevy Chase is the high school principal, Garry Marshall is a member of the college board, Ben Stiller a freshman, and Harold Ramis is the Dean of Admissions.

Besides the cast, headed by the able young Hanks, there's also a pretty good story.  It's not all silliness; however, Black does provide a good dose of laughs.  But, the best thing about the film is the closeness of Shawn and Ashley and the lesson learned from Skinner when he says, "Even in a world where people can be stupid and superficial, there can be hope."

Orange County

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