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"The Oranges" (2012 release; 90 min.) brings the story of two married couples living across the street from each other. There is Terry and Cathy Ostroff (played by Oliver Platt and Allison Janney). Terry and Cathy are best friends with David and Paige Walling (played by Hugh Laurie and Catherine Keener), whose marriage is not going well and whose twenty-something yr. old daughter Vanessa still lives with them. This is in sharp contrast with Terry and Cathy's daughter (and Vanessa's childhood friend) Nina (played by Leighton Meester), who is living "la vida loca" in San Francisco. Things go unexpectedly sour for Nina who, tails between her legs, moves in with her parents. The two families are enjoying their time together, until Nina and David develop a crush on each other (despite their significant age difference). At that point we are about one-third into the movie, and to tell you more of the plot would simply ruin your viewing experience. But as you can well imagine, all kinds of crazy situations develop from there, some of them funny, others bittersweet, and yet other moments outright sad.

Several comments: Hugh Laurie (yes, he of the "House" TV series) shows again with this performance how versatile he really is. (Remember a year ago he released an album "Let Them Talk", which was critically well-received.) I'm sure it had to be a relief for Laurie to be playing a character so vastly different from "House". However, Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt also bring choice performances. It's difficult to assess Leighton Meester, as it is hard to make that leap of faith to see what she sees in David, who is twice her age. Also it is a bit strange that the movie was released in early October (when I saw it at the Landmark E Street Theatre in Washington), as the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays play a significant role in the movie.

All that aside, the bottom line is that this movie is more than just a 'romantic comedy', as the movie brings home some poignant moments. I found myself enjoying this movie a lot more than I had expected. If you are in the mood for one of those "little indie movies that could", "The Oranges" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
22 comments35 of 37 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on September 15, 2013
I had never heard of this movie until I randomly came across it on Amazon. Between the cast and description, had to give it a try. My wife and I were not disappointed. It is well worth a watch.

The cast is very funny. If you have seen any of these actors in previous films (and I am sure you have), the characters they play are exactly what you would expect. Given the quality of the actors, this is not a bad thing.

The movie offers a critique of suburbanism and consumerism without being as heavy-handed or blatant as something like American Beauty. While a comedy, it also is not as ridiculous as some other films with similar vents. The characters reflect on who they are and how they feel about their lives. Note that this is not a particularly romantic movie, although it would be good to watch on a date.

The Oranges is definitely worth the time and/or financial investment.
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on May 8, 2013
While this wasn't the greatest movie ever made, it definitely was solid. With a lot of movies I watch, I find myself stopping and starting the DVD every once in awhile as I get distracted by something else. So, for me to watch a movie from start to finish without interruptions is a rarity. This was one of those movies.
The plot is solid and believable, the dialogue is solid and believable, the characters are (for the most part) solid and believable, and the acting is strong from start to finish. Again, definitely "worth a look."
No real weaknesses anywhere, which sounds like "faint praise," but really isn't, because so many movies these days have glaring weaknesses. So it really is nice to watch a movie that doesn't have any weak spots - makes it very enjoyable and satisfying to watch.
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on May 12, 2013
This is another feel good, feel awkward, sometimes humorous indie. The beginning of the film establishes the characters of the six main players. Two families are best friends. They do everything together, but not all is well. David Walling (Hugh Laurie) has been sleeping on the couch. His daughter Vanessa (Alia Shawkat) does some first person narration. Growing up she was best friends with Nina (Leighton Meester) who is part of the second family. Unlike Vanessa, Nina is a free spirit and Vanessa sees her as the antagonist.

Nina breaks up with her boyfriend and comes home for Thanksgiving after two years. The parents hope to fix her up with Toby Walling (Adam Brody), but Nina has suddenly developed a taste for older men, older married men who sleep on the couch. They are quickly discovered and the film goes into a mild disaster mode with crude comments from Nina's mom (Allison Janney) and snarky remarks from the hurt Vanessa.

The film had some funny parts, but for the most part it simply makes you smile at the awkward situation. The characters were well developed. The dialouge was decent. It has appeal and is worth a view, at least once. Leighton Meester did a great job.

Parental Guide: F-bomb. No sex or nudity. Some crude sex talk.
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on February 12, 2014
This movie doesn't know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a May-December romance? Does it want to be a whacky comedy? Is it a naturalistic view of growing up and older around your friends? Is it a tragedy? Is it a coming of age movie? Tune it at any moment in this movie and it's something else. Two lovers can share a scene and it will be followed by a stalker ex-boyfriend showing up or a wife driving over everything. There will be a sad "you betrayed me" scene but then there's a vibrator joke.

Still the main problem isn't the confusion over the plotting but the lack of chemistry between Hugh Laurie and Leighton Meester as the Woody Allen/Soon-Yi couple that throw everything into an uproar. In a better script or a better directed movie, they might pass as a couple of people who find each other and fall in love. In this movie, they are purely a plot contrivance. No one wants to see them together, least of all the actors. So much of the movie is about everyone being angry at them for being together, that any explanation as to WHY they are together is lost.

And that's an awfully glaring omission. No romantic comedy should get away with the "well they are both attractive white people so why not?" laziness, but several do and audiences accept the contrivances from sheer goodwill. However, there is a world of difference between Katherine Heigl and the male lead "falling in love" in a series of whacky adventures and this movie where the reasons NOT to get together are much more compelling than "they meet cute but she's a career woman and he's a manchild." She's the daughter of his best friends. He knew her as a child. His daughter is her best friend and his son is in love with her. She is just visiting New Jersey temporarily and leaving right away.

And it's not like the movie doesn't posit several possible explanations. Both characters are ending relationships. They could be desperate. They could be horny. They could be in a particularly self-interested time of life. Or they could be naturally falling into an easy relationship based on past history. All of these explanations could be built up and used as a way of explaining the central romance.

Instead, the relationship is a blank template and something for all the other characters to hate. Without explanation, the only thing left to offer are plot contrivances and "whacky" set pieces that don't actually add up to a coherent story.
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on November 19, 2013
This movie was really kind of uncomfortable to watch. The premise of the neighbor's daughter coming home and starting up an affair with her dad's friend is really kind of gross. And, in this case, just weird. Of course it's a movie -- maybe even based on the true life events of someone, but I just didn't buy it. The performances were adequate along the lines of something made for Lifetime, but with a bit of humor. I would say Katherine Keener's performance was outstanding of all the cast. But the whole experience was just "why?".
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A bit of fluff…or is it? This smart script written by Ian Helfer and Jay Reiss explores the conflicted views of society toward off kilter relationships through the tragicomic reactions of the two families and a few friends. These reactions, which range from awkward to furious, form the heart of the warm, funny, and occasionally touching movie. Some viewers may be distraught by the moral neutrality of the film, but since when did an intimate relationship between consenting adults, one of whom happens to be unhappily married, require censors to issue a strong moral condemnation? Not since the 1950's, yet we still talk about (and film) May- December coupling and other aspects of relationships that are far more detrimental to Good Housekeeping mentality than this story.

David (Hugh Laurie) and Paige (Catherine Keener) have a flatline marriage and a handsome young son Toby (Adam Brody) and funky daughter Vanessa (Alia Shawkat). They live across the street from best friends Terry (Oliver Platt) and Cathy (Allison Janney) whose wayward daughter Nina (Leighton Meester) has returned home from San Francisco for the holidays after breaking up with her fiancée Ethan (Sam Rosen) after she catches him cheating. Cathy sees the perfect timing for Nina to re-connect with the very eligible Toby, tries all tricks to make this happens, but Nina will not be told how to respond. Instead Nina and David become entangled in an affair, which cause all manner of alterations in the ‘friendship’ between the two families and the relationship between the parents of each.

In the hands of other actors this would just be a silly, flippant Rom-com, but given the cast and direction by Julian Farino it is a fine examination of human foibles. Grady Harp, November 13
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on April 12, 2014
This movie was a late night purchase and well worth it...This movie is about to families that our neighbors and the daughter of one family hooks up with the dad from the other, it is kind of a dark romantic comedy...I would definitely watch this again!
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on September 22, 2013
This is a story about two families who are neighbors and good friends. That is, until an affair begins. I don't want to spoil the movie, but in a few months or a year, I would probably watch it again. Good acting, but of course, I'm a Hugh Laurie fan.
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on August 9, 2013
Well acted. Interesting premise. But then, what mid-life crisis is complete without a sweet young thing? I enjoyed watching it.

At the risk of being a spoiler, I didn't completely accept that it could end as it did.
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