Signs

Colin Hanks Jack Black. Directed by Jake Kasdan.
Running Time: 82 mins
Rated: M
After a surfing accident kills his best friend, Shaun Brumder (Hanks) reassesses his goals in life. He accidentally comes across the work of Marcus Skinner (Kevin Kline) and decides he wants to be a writer. He applies to study with Mr Skinner at Stanford University. He is devastated when his College application is unsuccessful. Shaun discovers that the school
guidance counsellor (Lily Tomlin) sent in the wrong transcript. With Lance (Black), his drug addicted brother, and Cindy (Catherine O'Hara), his adoring girlfriend, at his side he goes to Stanford to plead his case.

Orange County is a slight, teen film that has some very funny moments. The problem is that the humour is not evenly spread throughout the film. Shaun's ridiculously dysfunctional family provide plenty of material for gags in the first half of the film, but when he hits the road for Stanford, the laughs suddenly dry up. We have 'been there, seen that' too many times to find Shaun and Lance's campus tricks even mildly amusing.

Given the uneven material the acting in this film is uniformly good, with great cameos from John Lithgow, Lily Tomlin, Chevy Chase and Kevin Kline.

The values of Orange County are laudable enough: discovering that the greatest gifts we have are usually right under our noses, and that the best things in life are worth fighting for. So there could be worse ways to while away 82 minutes than having a few laughs as we confirm what many of us know already.

Richard Leonard SJ