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The Oranges

(2011)
Not entirely sure why I rented this from Netflix Im guessing because Hugh Laurie was prominently featured but it has an interesting cast: Oliver Platt, Alison Janney, and Catherine Keener, along with Laurie; theres also Adam Brody and Leighton Meester. Platt and Laurie plays best buds Terry and David, mid-lifers securely ensconced in New Jersey suburban bliss. Janney is Terrys wife Cathy, and Keener Davids wife Paige. The two families are exceptionally close, so much so that Cathy and Terry hope their wayward daughter Nina (Meester) will finally go for David and Paiges highly eligible son, Toby (Brody). For no reason I could discern David and Paige also have a daughter, Vanessa (Alia Shawkat), who, despite being a decidedly lesser character, is chosen to be the narrator. When Nina comes home from California for Thanksgiving after catching her boyfriend cheating on her, Cathy all but physically pushes her toward Toby, who, freshly home from China, more or less just wants to sleep. Nina, however, casts her eyes upon David, and the two begin a romance that shatters the comfortable lives of just about everyone. Despite a strong cast and some witty dialogue, the movie never really comes together. Though we are given no evidence that Nina is being anything but honest with David, Meester and Laurie have no romantic chemistry, and it always feels like shes going to dump him at any second. Platt and Janney have a little better time of it; despite playing semi-stereotypes, they often get to work off one another, and they make a strong couple. Keeners Paige, most hurt by all of this, reacts ridiculously, shedding everything in her life to volunteer for an aid foundation; her anger only surfaces at the end, when she attempts to destroy Davids Christmas lawn decorations through vehicular homicide. Brodys in the film so briefly he barely registers, and Meester, well, maybe shes not that good of an actress, or maybe shes just out of her depth here, but she never pulls Nina off. You want to like Nina because David does, but you cant, because theres no core, and you cant believe in the relationship because, again, you spend the whole movie waiting for the other shoe to fall. Shawkats acceptable, but her character is so annoyingly written and so unnecessary that you wonder why shes even there. Still, for all its flaws, I enjoyed watching a foursome of seasoned pros work their way through the material, right up until the end, which made some logical sense, but just turned me off; I could forgive the movies transgressions up until that point, but ultimately, with a lackluster ending, its just not worth the investment of your time. There are some good interactions in the film, most particularly with Laurie and Platt; but theres no payoff, and enough to irritate, that youre better off skipping this one altogether. October 28, 2013