In The Oranges, Hugh Laurie gets to sleep with the much younger Leighton Meester, who also happens to be the daughter of his good friend and neighbor. It doesn't seem like a very good decision, but if I had to pick between Leighton Meester and Oliver Platt, there is at least a 55 percent chance I would do the same thing. There's also about a 55 percent chance you'll like The Oranges enough to make it worth your while.
The Oranges is one of those movies that suck to review. It's a perfectly fine movie, with decent performances and an entertaining script. It's also perfectly forgettable. Ultimately, it's a movie I can neither rave about nor trash, so what's a critic to do?
I'll write a few more paragraphs.
The movie has the look and feel of a quirky drama-comedy, but it's more a lighthearted drama than anything else. The picture is well paced and whimsical in its approach, never taking itself too seriously while tackling what can only be described as a very awkward topic.
The greatest achievement by director Julian Farino and screenwriters Ian Helfer and Jay Reiss is that they managed to assemble a great cast that takes what could have been bit roles and turns every one into three dimensional characters. Adam Brody, Tim Guinee, Catherin Keener and Allison Janney all deliver fine supporting performances, though it's Meester who is most impressive. She is frustratingly matter-of-fact about the circumstances she sets in motion, and yet seems the most level-headed. It's hard to tell whether she's the most mature or least mature of the bunch; the lack of clarity is intriguing. Laurie is good, too, though those accustomed to watching him in "House" might be disappointed by his muted, down-to-earth performance.
Still, The Oranges can't escape what it is: a little family drama that falls short of remarkable. It's hard to understand what drew the actors to the story or what will drive audiences to theaters, as, while perfectly good in its own right, it has no real hook of which to speak. For that reason, it's hard to recommend.
At least Hugh Laurie gets to sleep with Leighton Meester.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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