A great cast can be a powerful weapon. In the case of the new family dramedy The Oranges it's the saving grace.
The formula for a quirky suburban dissection is on full display in the feature from TV veteran Julian Farino and first-time writers Ian Helfer and Jay Reiss which follows two best friend couples Terry and Carol Ostroff (Oliver Platt and Allison Janney) and David and Paige Walling (Hugh Laurie and Catherine Keener) whose BFF relationship implodes when David strikes up a romance with the Ostroff's daughter Nina (Leighton Meester). The scandalous affair lights a fire under the well-to-do New Jersey families and when David realizes that his connection with Nina is deeper than just a one night stand their white picket fence lives completely crack.
Even with a divisive subject matter (to follow love or to stick with family?) The Oranges floats by without much edge. David and Nina's romance begins with passion but is entirely void of sexual fire. As it evolves they become complacent and boring — everything David hated about his first marriage. That would be a great twist but The Oranges isn't satire. The conflict comes with the scowling world around the unlikely pair the Ostroff's distraught over their daughter's choices Paige off exploring other options for her own now-single life and David's daughter Vanessa (Alia Shawkat) juggling her own aimless path as a furniture designer. For a risky life choice David and Nina's decision to declare their love for one another doesn't come with many repercussions even in the "squeaky clean" land of Jersey.
But the cast turns The Oranges into one to watch. Laurie has a life beyond the uptight Dr. House playing David as a compassionate conflicted acceptedly selfish man. It's easy to see why he falls for Meester's Nina who isn't simply a 20-something with an interest in older guys. They both see qualities in each other that are apparent to the audience and they play it with energy not present in the material. There's a been-there-done-that feeling to Platt and Janney in The Oranges but only because they're continually perfect as the hilarious overbearing parents. Sadly Keener goes to waste; another indie vet she spends most of the time of screen until one momentous outburst that arrives without build up.
Farino adeptly directs The Oranges and avoids the eye-rolling tropes that go hand and hand with movies of this nature (I'm looking at you head-on shots featuring Linus-like characters moping about). He knows how to let his actors play and when you have a man like Laurie in the lead that's a must. The movie never peels back the rhine to find something new to say about the 'burbs but with great actors in tow The Oranges rises above the lookalikes.
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Oscars Shmoscars. The Annie Awards are where the real glory is.
In all seriousness, animation is an unappreciated medium, so the 2011 Annie Awards is a phenomenon that really deserves our attention. The nominations are in for this year's awards ceremony, celebrating the art, production, writing, directing and acting in animated projects.
As you check out the nominees below, begin to realize that you're not nearly as happy as you could be. Then, watch all of the movies listed. Problem solved.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
A Cat in Paris – Folimage
Arrugas (Wrinkles) – Perro Verde Films, S.L.
Arthur Christmas – Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Cars 2 – Pixar Animation Studios
Chico & Rita – Chico & Rita Distribution Limited
Kung Fu Panda 2 – DreamWorks Animation
Puss In Boots – DreamWorks Animation
Rango – Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
Rio – Blue Sky Studios
Tintin – Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
BEST ANIMATED SPECIAL PRODUCTION
Adventure Time: Thank You – Cartoon Network Studios
Batman: Year One – Warner Bros. Animation
Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas – Blue Sky Studios
Kung Fu Panda – Secrets of the Masters – DreamWorks Animation
Prey 2 –Blur Studio
Star Tours – Industrial Light & Magic
BEST ANIMATED SHORT SUBJECT
Adam and Dog – Lodge Films
I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat – Warner Bros. Animation
La Luna – Pixar Animation Studios
(Notes on) Biology – Ornana Films
Paths of Hate – Platige Image
Sunday – National Film Board of Canada
The Ballad of Nessie –Walt Disney Animation Studios
The Girl and the Fox – Base14
Wild Life – National Film Board of Canada and Studio GDS
BEST ANIMATED TELEVISION COMMERCIAL
Audi “Hummingbird” – The Mill
Geico “Foghorn” – Renegade Animation
McDonald’s “Apple Tree” – Duck Studios/Kompost
McDonald’s “Suzi Van Zoom” – Duck Studios/Kompost
Norton “Stuff”– Psyop
O2 “Niggles & Narks” – The Mill
Statoil “Good Night” – Studio AKA
“The Pirate” – Meindbender
Twinings “Sea” – Psyop
BEST GENERAL AUDIENCE ANIMATED TV PRODUCTION
Archer – FX Productions
Green Lantern: The Animated Series – Warner Bros. Animation
Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas - Hallmark
MAD – Warner Bros. Animation
Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2 – Starburns Industries, Inc.
Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
The Simpsons – Gracie Films
BEST ANIMATED TELEVISION PRODUCTION - PRESCHOOL
Chuggington – Ludorum Pictures
Disney's Jake and the Never Land Pirates – Disney Television Animation
Disney's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse – Disney Television Animation
The WotWots Season 2 – Pukeko Pictures
BEST ANIMATED TELEVISION PRODUCTION - CHILDREN
Fanboy and Chum Chum – Nickelodeon and Frederator
Kung Fu Panda – DreamWorks Animation
Penguins of Madagascar – DreamWorks Animation
The Amazing World of Gumball – Cartoon Network in Association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
BEST ANIMATED VIDEO GAME
Bumpy Road – Simogo
Catherine – Atlus
Gears of War 3 – Epic Games
Gesundheit – Konami Digital Entertainment
Ghost Trick: “Phantom Detective” – Capcom
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet – Shadow Planet Productions, Gagne/Fuelcell
Ratchet and Clark: All 4 One – Insomniac
Rayman Origins – Ubisoft Montpellier
Unchartered 3: Drake’s Deception – Naughty Dog
ANIMATED EFFECTS IN AN ANIMATED PRODUCTION
Can Yuksel “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Chase Cooper “Rango” Industrial Light & Magic
Dan Lund “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Dave Tidgewell “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Eric Froemling “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Jason Mayer “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Joel Aron “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
Jon Reisch “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Kevin Romond “Tintin” Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
Willi Geiger “Rango” Industrial Light & Magic
ANIMATED EFFECTS IN A LIVE ACTION PRODUCTION
Branko Grujcic “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” Industrial Light & Magic
Florent Andarra “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Industrial Light & Magic
Gary Wu “Cowboys & Aliens” Industrial Light & Magic
Lee Uren “Cowboys & Aliens” Industrial Light & Magic
CHARACTER ANIMATION IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Chad Sellers “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Michael Franceschi “Kung Fu Panda” Nickelodeon
Rebecca Wilson Bresee “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Sihanouk Mariona “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburns Industries, Inc.
Tony Smeed “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
CHARACTER ANIMATION IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Andreas Deja “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Dan Wagner “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Jeff Gabor “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Mark Henn “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Olivier Staphylas “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Patrik Puhala “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Pierre Perifel “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
CHARACTER ANIMATION IN A LIVE ACTION PRODUCTION
Andy Arnett “HOP” Rhythm & Hues, Illumination Entertainment
David Lowry “Paul” Double Negative Visual Effects for Universal
Productions/Relativity Media/Working Title Films/Big Talk Productions
Eric Reynolds “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” 20th Century Fox
Mike Hull “Paul” Double Negative Visual Effects for Universal
Productions/Relativity Media/Working Title Films/Big Talk Productions
CHARACTER DESIGN IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Bill Schwab “Prep & Landing” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Carl Raggio “Disney Kick Buttowski” Disney Television Animation
Chad Hurd “Archer” FX Productions
Chris Battle “Dan Vs.” Starz Film Roman
Eric Robles “Fanboy and Chum Chum” Nickelodeon & Frederator
Gordon Hammond “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Mike Dougherty “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Robert Ryan Cory “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome” Cartoon Network Studios
CHARACTER DESIGN IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Jay Shuster “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Mark “Crash” McCreery “Rango” Paramount Pictures and
Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
Patrick Mate “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Peter de Seve “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Sergio Pablos “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
DIRECTING IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Brian Sheesley “Dan Vs.” Starz Film Roman
Chris Savino & Clay Morrow “ Disney Kick Buttowski” Disney Television Animation
Dan Riba “Ben 10 Ultimate Alien” Cartoon Network Studios
Duke Johnson “Community” 23 D Films, Inc.
Gabe Swarr “Kung Fu Panda” Nickelodeon
Ken Bruce “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Kevin Deters & Stevie Wermers-Skelton “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Matthew Nastuk “The Simpsons” Gracie Films
Mic Graves & Ben Bocquelet “The Amazing World of Gumball”
Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
Peter Hausner “Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu” Wil Film
Steve Loter, Christo Stamboliev, Shaun Cashman, David Knott “Penguins of Madagascar” Nickelodeon and Technicolor
Tony Craig “Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas” Hallmark
DIRECTING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Carlos Saldahna “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Chris Miller “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Don Hall & Stephen Anderson “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Gore Verbinski “Rango” Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present a Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
Jennifer Yuh Nelson “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Kelly Asbury “Gnomeo & Juliet” Touchstone Pictures
MUSIC IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Adam Berry, Bob Schooley, Mark McCorkle “Penguins of Madagascar” Nickelodeon and Technicolor
Ben Locket “The Amazing World of Gumball” Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
Frederik Wiedmann “Green Lantern The Animated Series” Warner Bros. Animation
Grace Potter, Michael Giacchino “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Joel McNeely, Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda “Pixie Hollow Games” DisneyToon Studios
Kevin Kliesch “Thundercats” Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network
Shawn Patterson, Zeb Wells “Robot Chicken” ShadowMachine and Stoopid Monkey in association with Adult Swim
MUSIC IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Henry Jackman “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
John Williams “Tintin” Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
Mikael Mutti, Siedah Garrett, Carlinhos Brown, Sergio Mendes, John Powell, “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Zooey Deschannel, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Henry Jackman, Robert Lopez “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
PRODUCTION DESIGN IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Mark Bodner, Chris Tsirgiotis, Sue Mondt and Daniel Elson “Secret Mountain Fort Awesome” Cartoon Network Studios
Peter Martin “Hoops & YoYo Ruin Christmas” Hallmark
PRODUCTION DESIGN IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Harley Jessup “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Paul Felix “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Raymond Zilbach “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Tom Cardone, Kyle MacNaughton & Peter Chan “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
STORYBOARDING IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Barry W. Johnson “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Benton Connor “Regular Show” Cartoon Network Studios
Brian Kesinger “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Dave Thomas “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Fred Gonzalez “TUFF Puppy” Nickelodeon
Joe Mateo “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Justin Nichols “Fanboy & Chum Chum” Nickelodeon & Frederator
Katie Rice “Fanboy & Chum Chum” Nickelodeon & Frederator
Rebecca Sugar “Adventure Time” Cartoon Network Studios
STORYBOARDING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Bob Logan “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
David Gosman “Rango” Paramount Pictures & Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
Gary Graham “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Jeremy Spears “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
Josh Hayes “Rango” Paramount Pictures & Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Production
Kris Pearn “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Nelson Yokota “Gnomeo and Juliet” Touchstone Pictures
Philip Craven “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Scott Morse “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
VOICE ACTING IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Carlos Alazraqui as Denzel Crocker “Fairly OddParents” Nickelodeon
Dan Harmon as Jekyll “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburns Industries, Inc.
Daran Norris as Cosmo “Fairly OddParents” Nickelodeon
Dee Bradley Baker as Obi-Wan “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
Diedrich Bader as Batman “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” Warner Bros. Animation
H. Jon Benjamin as Sterling Archer “Archer” FX Productions
Jeff Bennett as Kowalski “Penguins of Madagascar” Nickelodeon and Technicolor
Jeff B. Davis as Victor Frankenstein “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburns Industries, Inc.
Jessica Walter as Malory Archer “Archer” FX Productions
Judy Greer as Cheryl Tunt “Archer” FX Productions
Logan Grove as Gumball “The Amazing World of Gumball” Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media & Studio Soi
Nika Futterman as Asajj Ventress “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
Scott Adsit as the Creature “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburns Industries, Inc.
Tara Strong as Timmy Turner “Fairly OddParents – Operation Dingleberg” Nickelodeon
VOICE ACTING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Ashley Jensen as Bryony “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Bill Nighy as Grandsanta “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman Animations
Gary Oldman as Shen “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
James Hong as Mr. Ping “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Jemaine Clement as Nigel “Rio” Blue Sky Studios
Jim Cummings as Featherstone “Gnomeo and Juliet” Touchstone Pictures
Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Alexander Dumpty “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
WRITING IN A TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Blake Lemons, William Reiss, C.H. Greenblatt, Derek Evanick, Diana Lafyatis, Neil Graf “Disney Fish Hooks – Fish School Musical”
Disney Television AnimationCarolyn Omine “The Simpsons -Treehouse of Horror XXII” – Gracie Films
Dani MIchaeli, Sean Charmatz, Nate Cash, Luke Brookshier, Paul
Tibbitt “SpongeBob SquarePants - Patrick’s Staycation” Nickelodeon
Josh Weinstein “Futurama - All The President’s Heads” The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Kevin Sullivan, Will Schifrin, Ray DeLaurentis “TUFF Puppy Thunder Dog” Nickelodeon
Matt Maiellaro, Dave Willis “Agua Unit Patrol Squad 1 – The Creditor” Williams Street Studios, Adult Swim
Ray DeLaurentis, Will Schifrin “Fairly OddParents “Invasion of the Dads” Nickelodeon
Steve Wermers-Skelton, Kevin Deters “Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice” Walt Disney Animation Studios
WRITING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, Mark Burton, Kathy Greenburg, Emily Cook, Rob Sprackling, John R. Smith, Kelly Asbury, Steve Hamilton “Gnomeo & Juliet” Touchstone Pictures
Brian Kesinger, Kendelle Hoyer, Don Dougherty, Clio Chang, Don Hall, Stephen Anderson “Winnie The Pooh” Walt Disney Animation Studios
John Logan, Gore Verbinski and James Byrkit “Rango” Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
Sarah Smith, Peter Baynham “Arthur Christmas” Sony Pictures Animation, Aardman AnimationsSteve Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cronish “Tintin” Amblin
Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
EDITING IN TELEVISION PRODUCTION
Garret Elkins “Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole Season 2” Starburn Industries, Inc.
Hugo Morales “Kung Fu Panda” Nickelodeon Jason W.A. Tucker “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Lucasfilm Animation, Ltd.
Paul D. Calder “Futurama” The Curiosity Company in association with 20th Century Fox Television
Ted Machold, Jeff Adams, Doug Tiano, Bob Tomlin “Penguins of Madagascar” Nickelodeon and Technicolor
EDITING IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Clare Knight, A.C.E. “Kung Fu Panda 2” DreamWorks Animation
Craig Wood, A.C.E. “Rango” Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon
Movies present A Blind Wink/GK Films Productions
Eric Dapkewicz “Puss In Boots” DreamWorks Animation
Michael Kahn “Tintin” Amblin Entertainment, Wingnut Films and Kennedy/Marshall
Stephen Schaffer, A.C.E. “Cars 2” Pixar Animation Studios
Winsor McCay Award – Walt Peregoy, Borge Ring, Robert Searle
June Foray – Art Leonardi
Special Achievement – Depth Analysis
Hugh Laurie is reportedly in discussions to play the lead role in Oranges, a dark dramatic comedy about an older man who has an affair with the daughter of a family friend.
Also said to be circling the project, according to The Los Angeles Times' 24 Frames blog, are Leighton Meester and Mila Kunis. If Meester were to play Laurie's lover, it would be a fitting denouement to a role she had on an early episode of House, wherein she played a girl obsessed with Laurie's curmudgeon/genius diagnostician.
24 Frames notes that the Oranges script, by Jay Reiss and Ian Helfer, landed at No. 2 on the Black List back in 2008. Produced by Anthony Bregman, the film is being financed by Glen Basner's Film Nation and Leslie Urdang's Olympus Pictures.
Laurie, little known to mass US audiences before becoming Dr. Gregory House on the Fox TV show, has had several supporting film roles and, contrary to the LAT blog's contention that he has never carried a film, starred in UK cult favorite Maybe Baby opposite Joely Richardson in 2000 (OK, it wasn’t a “Hollywood” film…).
That project was written and directed by Ben Elton (with whom Laurie worked back in the Blackadder days) with some scenes directed by Laurie himself.
Meanwhile, both Meester and Kunis appear opposite each other in the upcoming comedy Date Night, which stars Steve Carell and Tina Fey.