This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
"Orange County" has the form of a teenage movie, the spirit of an independent comedy, and the subversive zeal of Jack Black, whose grin is the least reassuring since Jack Nicholson. It's one of those movies like "Ghost World" and "Legally Blonde" where the description can't do justice to the experience. It will sound like the kind of movie that, if you are over 17, you don't usually go to see. But it isn't.
The movie is a launching pad for three members of Hollywood's next generation. The stars are Colin Hanks (son of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson) and Schuyler Fisk (daughter of Sissy Spacek and Jack Fisk). The director is Jake Kasdan (son of Lawrence and Meg Kasdan). All have worked before, well, but this is one of those happy projects where everything seems to fall naturally into place.
Hanks plays Shaun Brumder, heedless and carefree teenage Orange County surfer--until one day he finds a novel half-buried in the sand. It's by Marcus Skinner, one of those authors who can strike a kid of the right age as a conduit to truth and beauty. Shaun casts aside his old surfer lifestyle (to the grief of his pot-brained buddy) and determines to get into Stanford and study at the feet of the great Skinner (Kevin Kline).
This should be a cinch, since his test scores are very high. But he's rejected by Stanford because the daffy high school counselor (Lily Tomlin) has sent in the wrong scores under his name. This disappointment is crushing to Shaun, less disturbing to the other members of his definitively dysfunctional family. His father Bud (John Lithgow) is workaholic and distant, his mother Cindy (Catherine O'Hara) is--well, Catherine O'Hara, and his brother Lance (Jack Black) is a couch potato, although potatoes may be the one substance he doesn't abuse. There is also Ashley (Schuyler Fisk), his loyal girlfriend, who believes in him, supports him, and is, in a stunning breakthrough for the teenage comedy genre, a blond who is as intelligent as he is, maybe more.