BY ASHLEY KOWALEWSKI
Talk about a hidden gem. While I won’t say this is the best movie I’ve ever seen, it definitely surpassed my expectations (of course, I don’t even remember this being in theatres, so my expectations really weren’t that high).
The story goes that two families, the Ostroffs and the Wallings, have lived across the street from one another for over two decades and have become more than just neighbours; they’ve become friends. When one family’s wanderlust incapable-of-settling twenty-something daughter Nina (Leighton Meester) returns home after being dumped by yet another loser, she inadvertently creates a rift by smooching with the patriarch of her the other family, and dad’s best friend, David (Hugh Laurie). Of course, this opens a whole can of worms for everyone, revealing wounds from years of suppressed marital issues in both families. David’s twenty-something, play-it-safe daughter Vanessa (played by Alia Shawkat, whom you may remember as Maeby Fünke from Arrested Development) experiences the most discomfort of her father’s affair: Being caught in between both of her parents, while also dealing with her own coming-of-age, she can’t help but think that her former classmate and friend Nina is a total skank and homewrecker (which, let’s be real, she kind of is).
I also need to take a moment to acknowledge Allison Janney. I truly do not understand why she hasn’t hit it big, because she is freaking hilarious and dazzles in almost every role she’s in (um, hello Juno, Hairspray, The Help–the list goes on). She is definitely one of the highlights of this movie and provides a substantial amount of the entertainment.
As movies have a tendency to do, everything works itself out in the end, though probably not the way that you expect. This movie totally had some funny moments and lines and really makes me feel bad for completely missing this movie’s release. One of those Christmas-but-not-really-Christmasy movies (think The Holiday), this flick totally proves that every family has its issues, so you shouldn’t feel so bad or ashamed about yours. The movie’s only downfall? Emotionally underdeveloped main characters–ironic that the supporting cast has more emotional depth than the protagonists–and a couple of “that would never happen” scenes.
What do you get when you cross a tech-happy pushover husband, an overbearing mother, a flakey free-wheeling daughter with an unhappy husband and wife, missing-in-action do-gooder son and resentful “my life sucks” daughter? A totally cute date night flick called The Oranges.