I think The Oranges is meant to be a comedy, though I would be hard-pressed to think of one moment in the film which was able to make me smile, much less laugh. The actors all seem committed to the comedy, though the chemistry is so off between the characters that it often feels as though they are all starring in different films from one another. The biggest problem is the lack of any seemingly believable connection between the two characters we are meant to believe like each other enough to break apart two families and lifelong friendship.
Perhaps the biggest problem of The Oranges, though there are many preventing it from being more than adequately forgettable entertainment, is narrative’s confused idea of a protagonist. The film is about two families living across from each other for years, developing a long-lasting friendship which is shaken with an affair. Our narrator is Vanessa (“Arrested Development” co-star Alia Shawkat), the daughter of David (Hugh Laurie) and Paige (Catherine Keener). They also have a son named Toby (Adam Brody), who seems to be pushed towards the daughter of neighbors across the street, Nina (Leighton Meester). Nina’s parents (Oliver Platt and Allison Janney) seem especially eager for this pairing to occur, unaware that by encouraging their 24-year-old daughter to spend time across the street she might spend it with Toby’s father instead.
Nina and David begin an affair, which is less than secret for most of the film. The movie isn’t about hiding indiscretions, but instead about the audacity that they have in pursuing an actual relationship together, right in front of their loved ones. Toby is the only one not told about this development, as he is out of town on business for a length of time, resulting on one of the film’s only memorable scenes. Years on “The O.C.” gave Brody skills at making even this poorly executed family drama slightly amusing.
What gets lost in the midst of Nina and David’s difficulties with the affair is our narrator’s voice. Although Vanessa provides voiceover at the beginning and the end of the film, she is more of a book-end to keep this loose narrative together. Her character is missing from far too much of the film. The
scratches the surface of all
relationships within the film, never delving deep enough for any of them to
feel sincere or true, least of all the couple at the center of the storyline. Oranges
The Blu-ray release of The Oranges has a high definition presentation of the film, which takes place in
despite some film goofs made more visible by the clear picture. The special
features include a making-of featurette, as well as some behind-the-scenes
footage. The Blu-ray combo pack comes with a DVD and digital copy of the film
as well. New Jersey
Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 4/10
Disc Features: 4/10