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Sunday 21 September 2014

Family friendship tested to the limit

Paul Whitington

Published 07/12/2012 | 18:00

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(15A, general release, 90 minutes)

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Director: Julian Farino Stars: Hugh Laurie, Leighton Meester, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt

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Julian Farino's The Oranges should be subtitled 'the indie classic that might have been'.

With its spicy plot, decent jokes and embarrassment of acting talent, it could and should have turned into something special, but it never does, perhaps because writers Ian Helfer and Jay Reiss fight shy of exploring the darker implications of the racy story.

Catherine Keener and Hugh Laurie are David and Paige Wallings, an affluent New Jersey couple who live right across the street from Terry and Carol Ostroff (Oliver Platt, Allison Janney), with whom they are best friends.

David and Terry go running every day and the families gather regularly for dinner.

David and Paige's daughter Vanessa (Alia Shawkat) still lives with them but dreams of moving in to New York City. She's not best pleased when Carol and Terry's beautiful but snooty daughter Nina (Leighton Meester) returns home after a broken relationship.

Carol wants Nina to go out with the Wallings son Toby ( Adam Brody), but the guano hits the fan when Nina takes a shine to his father, David.

Helfer, Reiss and their brilliant cast milk considerable mirth from the comedy of embarrassment.

But the illicit relationship at the centre of it all seems passionless and artificial, and the script places most of the blame on the young woman.

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