The Oranges

11 Oct

The Oranges – directed by Julian Farino. TV Drama. Two close families fall apart when the daughter of one seduces the father of the other. 90 minutes Color 2012.
Yes, but where is the fun in it? It’s a sex farce played serious, “for real,” at the pitch of a dirge, Bugs Bunny in a hearse. The great ones, Allison Janney and Oliver Platt, look as if they are about to jump out of their britches at any moment with the humor of the situation, but they are never allowed to reveal that humor in any way, since the rest are playing it on the level of TV soap, that is to say, for a small screen whose emotional responses, on the huge Big Screen, are facial and patented. Moues to mark an emotion, but which look gauche, mechanical, copied, and huge. The two principles need to be played by Steve Martin and any one of Goldie Hawn’s daughters. By which I mean actors with a point of view. Catherine Keener is woefully miscast, and, in any case is not an actor with the sort of comic mania for retribution that would permit her to drive her car killing dead all the Christmas lawn decorations of her husband’s home. Oh, to have seen Bette Midler play that scene: the relish in her wicked eye! There is moreover no connection between any of the members of the two households, either in writing or acting. You never believe they are related or married to one another, and I sat through the whole film not being able to sort out or remember who was the child of whom and the husband and wife of whom, and there are only seven principles in the cast. The premise is that the families have become constricted, lifeless, and routine. But routine marriages do not stay together with flimsy glue. They may not be lively, they may not be sexual, but they are held together by important natural habits of financial custodianship, regulation of meals, and tact. But not here. Platt is a collector of idiotic gadgets; Janney never listens to him and pesters her daughter. Only their negative routines are shown, never the routines that ground their lives as two families bound together and as individuals bound to one another. So in condemning the routine, the film becomes routine. But the problem with the film is not just this, or that its actors do TV acting (I exclude Janney and Platt from this denomination), but that the director and writers seem not to have seen the material for the sex farce it is. A wonderful title for a farce: The Oranges. And, instead, alas, all one can do is throw a little fruit at it.

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