After finding a book on the beach, Shaun Brunder (Colin Hanks) gives up surfing to pursue a career as a writer and to escape his dysfunctional family. His hopes are dashed, however, when the high school counselor (Lily Tomlin) sends Stanford the wrong transcript. Shaun’s determination to set the record straight leads to a series of frantic, comical, impossible manipulations with the help of girl friend Ashley (Schuyler Fisk) and Lance (Jack Black), his drugged-out brother.
Offensive material, mostly from Shaun’s dysfunctional family, should qualify this film for an R rating. His alcoholic mother (Catherine O’Hara) embarrasses Shaun with low-cut blouses, drunken behavior and neglect of her elderly, invalid husband. Older brother Lance, usually in a drug stupor and wearing only underwear throughout the movie, depends on Shaun to supply a specimen to pass a drug test. In his misguided attempt to help Shaun, Lance seduces a Stanford employee then sets fire to the administration building with no consequences. All adults in the film are portrayed as unbelievably dumb and gullible. With only a sliver of hope that lifestyles change, drunks and druggies portrayed as comical send messages that anything that makes you laugh is “cool.” Fourteen obscenities and three strong profanities add to the mess and make ORANGE COUNTY a major disappointment.