I assume the, back in the summer, the Indy International Film Festival selected The Oranges for opening night because of its super-star cast. But it was a poor choice. Upper-middle class, white American suburban scandal doesn’t exactly carry the flag for international film.
Contrary to its categorization on IMDB, The Oranges is not a drama or a romance and, while it has the right ending to fit the traditional definition for a comedy, calling it a comedy just doesn’t seem right, either.
So after spending some time trying to decide how to talk about it, I went ahead and came up with a new genre: Suburban Gossip. It’s none of your business, you don’t know the whole story, you have zero opportunity to truly identify or sympathize with any of the characters, and although it’s wildly and uncomfortably entertaining, it doesn’t make for a great movie.
The character and situational development are absolute shit. You can predict these people like they’re your own family, and ten bucks says you could walk out halfway through the movie and feel totally certain you know exactly how it ends. You’ve heard gossip before. You know how it goes.
But you won’t walk out. You’ll watch the whole thing and you’ll laugh a lot and gasp at plenty of it. And when it’s over, you’ll feel like you spent the last hour digging through someone else’s dirty laundry.
Okay, so here’s the real thing that’s bugging me, though. I give poor character and situational development a free pass all the time just because I like movies and because I usually have pretty low expectations. But The Oranges is supposed to be believable, and it’s just not. I actually bought into Madagascar 3 more. Seriously.
And it’s not because Hugh Laurie’s 20- or 30-some years older than Leighton Meester. It’s because I never once thought they liked each other. Watching the two of them interact was exactly like hearing the story secondhand from a person who didn’t believe it was even remotely possible.
The Oranges is massively disappointing no matter which way your moral compass spins. It’s flat, cheap, and completely romanceless. You’ll laugh tons but you won’t leave feeling better about yourself—except, perhaps, to say, “Well, at least my life isn’t like that.”