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Movie review: 'The Oranges' finds a fresh take on post-college angst

Posted 1:26pm on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012

R (strong language, sexual references, drug use); 90 min.

In The Oranges, Vanessa finds herself unemployable after graduating college, and has to move back to the suburbs with Mom and Dad, work in some dead-end retail job, and live a life set to an indie-rock soundtrack. Stop me if you've heard this one before.

But, thankfully, the film has more on its mind than generic post-collegiate angst. It quickly takes a dark turn, pivoting away from Vanessa (Alia Shawkat) and making her a spectator to her family's emotional earthquake after her childhood best friend, Nina (Leighton Meester), returns to live with her parents across the street.

It turns out Vanessa's dad (Hugh Laurie) is going through a mid-life crisis as his marriage to Paige (Catherine Keener) is in the midst of a slow-motion collapse. All it takes is a little shove from a needy Nina to push it over.

How the two families, which had been best of friends for years, deal with this trauma gives The Oranges, which is outwardly a light dramedy, a sense of unexpected heft. Also helping are solid performances from all the leads, including Alison Janney as Nina's overprotective mom, Oliver Platt as her put-upon husband and Adam Brody as Vanessa's brother, a guy who long has had a crush on Nina. Ultimately, The Oranges is more life-affirming than life-changing. But, sometimes, that's not a bad place to be.

Exclusive: Angelika Dallas

-- Cary Darling

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