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Oranges, The


Stars: Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener, Leighton Meester, Alison Janney, Adam Brody, Alia Shawkat, Tim Guinee, Boyd Holbrook, Schuyler Fisk (voice)

Director: Julian Farino

We'd like to find the characters in this comedy-drama more believable and sympathetic than we do. But the script, perhaps deliberately, doesn't make them that way, This could too, be a serious drama, but the approach (and the music) suggest that, especially with Laurie in the lead, the makers had other ideas.

The title comes from the protagonists' home town - West Orange, New Jersey, from which the younger family members long to escape. Laurie, the lustrous Keener and their son (away on business) and teenage daughter (Shawkat) live across the way from Platt and Keener, whose daughter Nina (Meester) is finishing college, and hasn't been home in years.

Excited at her boyfriend's proposal of marriage, she's crushed when she catching him bonking another woman and, against all expectations, she turns up at her parents' doorstep for Thanksgiving. The Lauries' errant son (Brody) also returns, with Janney seeing him as a perfect match for Meester. 'I think we could be a little bit closer,' she gurgles, inadvertently presaging what is shortly to follow, as Meester and Laurie begin an affair.

Although, to its credit, the film resists succumbing to a conventional Hollywood ending, the screenplay is hardly inspired and fails to hit a consistent tone. Some developments, too, are more credible than others. It's certainly hardly believable, for example that Meester would be fired from her job at a restaurant after the boss sees estranged Laurie and Keener meet (accidentally) and chat at the same table. 'He saw you and Page together,' says Meester, 'and figured it all out. Really? How? And what difference would that make?

Falling between several stools, the film, despite professional performances, finally lacks any sort of appeal.

David Quinlan

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Paramount. Technicolor.
90 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 02 Dec 2012