Director Jake Kasdan's shaggy, haphazard teen comedy scores points for its likable (if miscast) leads and some inspired comic situations, but it's hard to think of the film as anything more than a missed opportunity. Orange County's scant 81-minute running time may provide some clues as to why: The best jokes in Mike White's mildly subversive script were most likely left on the cutting-room floor to avoid an "R" rating. What's left is a hodgepodge of gags about sex, substance abuse, and class privilege, some of which are spot-on in lampooning Southern Californian affluence, while others feel half-baked and perfunctory. Kasdan shoves the film along at a sprightly pace, but the economy comes at a price: The quick cutting and frequent close-ups rob County of its atmosphere and style, and most every role feels like an extended cameo. Even the inspired supporting work by Jack Black, Kevin Kline, and Catharine O'Hara fails to make an impression. On the plus side, the film's wall-to-wall pop/rock soundtrack -- a prerequisite for an MTV Films release -- makes room for some unexpected pleasures, including several sun-kissed Brian Wilson tracks and even a running parody of Crazy Town's corny hit single, "Butterfly."
by Michael Hastings review