Colin HanksLeading

Canoe: ‘Orange County’ has family ties

Thanks to Sheila for this :)


‘Orange County’ has family ties
It’s all relative

Toronto Sun
NEW YORK — The catch phrase that the marketing wizards from Paramount Pictures dreamed up to sell Orange County is simple: “It’s not just a place. It’s a state of mind.”

It’s suggestive of something without being silly. The state of mind at play here is a bit off-kilter. There on the poster is the movie’s lead character and star, Colin Hanks, with two orange slices stuck over his eyes. Jack Black, who plays Hanks’ brother, has an orange wedge stuck in his mouth.

So you suspect this flick, unlike the failed satire we saw in December, is not just another teen movie. Sure enough, it turns out to be more, much more than some throwaway entertainment full of fart jokes and sexcapades.

For starters, Orange County is a second-generation movie phenomenon. Hanks, as you probably guessed, is indeed the 24-year-old son of Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks (by first wife Samantha Lewes). He plays a young surfer who discovers a great book buried in the sand at a beach and suddenly is swept away and inspired to become a writer himself.

Colin’s girlfriend in Orange County is played by Schuyler Fisk, the 19-year-old daughter of another Oscar winner, Sissy Spacek, and her husband, filmmaker and production designer Jack Fisk.

The movie’s director, meanwhile, is Jake Kasdan, 26, son of established Hollywood filmmaker Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill). This is the younger Kasdan’s second feature after his debut with Zero Effect, starring Bill Pullman and Ben Stiller.

Jake Kasdan’s connections and a clever script by Mike White (of Chuck & Buck fame), also mean that Orange County is peppered with hot name actors in strong cameo or secondary roles, including Kevin Kline, Harold Ramis, Catherine O’Hara, John Lithgow, Ben Stiller and even Lily Tomlin, as the world’s worst school guidance counsellor.

Kasdan finds the second-generation status of Orange County kind of intriguing, if unplanned.

“In the beginning, there was a moment when we all sort of looked at each other and said, ‘How did we get to this moment?’ ” he says.

Kasdan cast Hanks and Fisk after what he calls “this incredibly rigorous and lengthy auditioning process.” He chose them because he thought they were right for their lead roles, not because he wanted to create a gimmick. Then he had doubts about how they would be perceived by outsiders.

“It’s kind of insane. Is this going to work? It’s kind of an odd gimmick. It would be like a bad gimmick (if it was deliberate) because it’s the type of idea that loses its novelty after about 40 seconds of, ‘Really? Huh! Huh!’ ”

But Kasdan isn’t resentful that people are interested in the subject. “I do think it’s totally interesting and cool. I think people will talk about it a lot and you can’t expect anything else. It’s sort of a wild coincidence.

“What is interesting to me (is): How does this work? What do kids pick up from their parents? Why do people want to do what their parents do?

“And it’s interesting to be around these kids (Hanks and Fisk). They are like the two most well-adjusted young actors I’ve ever worked with — and I’ve worked with many of them. These are the two sweetest, most well-adjusted and among the most talented that I’ve ever worked with. You would meet these kids on the street and, if you didn’t know, you would never have any idea that they are of Hollywood royalty, because there is an absolute decency about them.”

That is exactly the air each of them exudes — total decency, total normalcy. Each is nonplussed about the fuss being made about who they are.

“It was kind of funny,” Fisk says of the second-generation thing. “It was just random how it all came together. I know I auditioned for it, just like everyone else, so it was just kind of funny who ended up making it. But it doesn’t really surprise me, because there are a lot of second-generation actors. There are a lot of second-generation people in many professions.”

Fisk says she has a distinct advantage as a second-generation actor growing up with her parents on a farm in Virginia, not in the hills of Hollywood.

“That’s the one thing that’s always been so important to my parents. It’s great and they have shown me by example by moving away from Hollywood to raise us, and by just letting us have a really normal childhood.

“It’s so nice to have somewhere to go back to,” she continues. “Every time I go home it’s more beautiful and I just appreciate it so much more.”

As for Hanks, he’s slightly wary of the second-generation subject.

“Look,” he says, “I can understand how it’s an interesting point — and rightly so. It’s not something that we think about, you know, and it’s not something that we really talk about, except when people ask us about it and we compare notes afterward. It never was really an issue for us.”

Hanks appeared in Band Of Brothers, which his father co-produced with Steven Spielberg, and had a bit part in That Thing You Do!, which his father directed. But he also had co-starring roles in the movies Get Over It and Whatever It Takes, and was one of the leads in the TV series Roswell. Still, he knows he is identified first with his father’s name.

“It can be frustrating because at times that’s the only thing that we talk about. It’s the only thing that I’m really asked about. But I’m completely comfortable with it.”

It helps that he is immensely proud of his father — especially in recent years. “At least it’s better than, ‘Oh yeah, your dad’s on Bosom Buddies!’ ” Hanks says with a smile. “It’s improved over the years.”

As for his own work, Hanks the Younger is proud of Orange County.

On the surface, says Hanks, “it might seem like every other teen movie. But what I liked about it was that it wasn’t about getting the girl, it wasn’t about being the most popular kid or being invited to the party, it wasn’t about losing your virginity.

“It was heartfelt and it was sincere and, yes, it’s funny and it’s goofy. But it was a personal journey and it wasn’t just about getting the tiara on your head at the prom.”

And it isn’t just a gimmick flick involving some famous people’s offspring.