What a shameful waste of superb actors is to be found in Julian Farino’s The Oranges! A domestic comedy-drama which involves a group of adults all acting like unbridled children, The Oranges sometimes verges on the unbearable, and even when it’s reasonably steady and casting off an interesting scene or two, it’s a sure bet that within a few minutes we’ll be back to the ridiculous. The amount of irritation that one film can work up in the viewer pretty much establishes a new world record with The Oranges.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 1 Hr. 30 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraVioletkeep case
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Release Date: 05/07/2013
With his marriage to indifferent wife Paige (Catherine Keener) on very shaky ground, David (Hugh Laurie) is more surprised than anybody that he falls for twenty-four year old Nina (Leighton Meester), the daughter of his neighbor and best friend Terry (Oliver Platt). Of course, Terry, bossy wife Cathy (Allison Janney), and David’s daughter Vanessa (Alia Shawkat) are all outraged at the news and are disgusted with David and disappointed in Nina whom they had all hoped would become interested in David’s son Toby (Adam Brody). With Christmas fast approaching, everyone seems eager to make decisions that will affect the two families inexorably and forever.
The Production Rating: 2/5
The entire premise of this hackneyed domestic roundelay penned by scribes Ian Helfer and Jay Reiss would dissolve into nothingness if the involved parties would all simply sit down and talk things out rationally as the adults they’re pretending to be, but instead we’re subjected to ninety minutes of childish bickering, absurd accusations, and suggestions of perversion which are anything but. Everyone seems to be operating on the premise that Nina is a child, but at age twenty-four, she’s hardly that and is under no obligation to do anything anyone tells her concerning her personal life. The only moments of sanity in the film until its less than satisfactorily sunny conclusion are brief moments when David and Nina can be themselves and simply relish being in each other’s company (a nicely staged and shot montage at Atlantic City is one of the film's few saving graces). While there doesn’t seem to be a real romantic spark between the actors, the scenes themselves between them are the only ones that ring even randomly true. Everything and everyone else are often unendurable. (Case in point: “injured wife” Paige keeps a remote distance from much of the turmoil for long stretches of the movie only to finally decide on Christmas Eve to vent her outrage over what’s happened by driving the car into all of the holiday lawn decorations. Supposedly meant for a frantic slapstick sequence, it comes across instead as the actions of a demented woman who needs serious psychological help.)
Neither marriage begins in a very healthy state of existence, and the actors involved do a good job showing us why. Allison Janney in particular seems coldly crass and thoughtless in dealing with the people in her life (not the first time she’s acted such a ball-busting spouse: see The Object of My Affection). Of the four married folks, Oliver Platt’s child-at-heart Terry with his love of gadgets and sweetly innocent demeanor is the most appealing. Hugh Laurie isn’t bad but doesn’t evince any real chemistry with Leighton Meester. As for the younger people, Alia Shawkat is the unappealing Lena Dunham-like daughter who lives at home after college and refuses to meet anyone halfway, Sam Rosen as Nina’s ex-fiance Ethan has the film’s one funny scene as he challenges David to do something about his refusal to leave the premises, Adam Brody doesn’t have much to do as David’s son who’s working in China for a long period of the movie, and Leighton Meester herself is fresh-faced with engaging potential that gets wasted in the spark-free relationship with David.
The film is presented in its theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio with 1080p resolution delivered by the AVC codec. Sharpness is very good and only a hair less than great on most occasions (you can certainly see almost every freckle on the face of actress Alia Shawkat. Color is well generated and is solidly consistent with no blooming hues and flesh tones which are very realistic. Black levels are likewise very good. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is mostly frontcentric. Dialogue is solidly presented and has been placed in the center channel, but the music score by Klaus Badelt and Andrew Raiher (and which includes several Dean Martin holiday standards) gets nice spread across the fronts but only slight spillage into the rears. Likewise sound effects have been overly subdued for the mix. The montage sequence for the two-day Atlantic City escape doesn’t give us much of a feel for the area at holiday time.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Opening Doors: Inside The Oranges (6:32, HD): an EPK overview of the film with sound bites from British director Julian Farino and stars Hugh Laurie, Allison Janney, Oliver Platt, Catherine Keener, and Leighton Meester.
Special Features Rating: 1.5/5
Juicy Secrets: Behind-the-Scenes of The Oranges (3:22, HD): an even briefer EPK vignette as director Julian Farino tells us the basic plot of the movie and introduces some of the characters and the actors who play them.
Promo Trailers (HD): A Late Quartet, The Sessions, Won’t Back Down, and Atlas Shrugged Part II.
An adult generational romantic comedy-drama is given a notably juvenile and almost wholly unsatisfying treatment in The Oranges. While the audio and video of this Blu-ray release are certainly laudable, fans of the actors will likely be disappointed with their work in this unsatisfactory effort.
Overall Rating: 2/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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