Film: Orange County

Shaun: But I have to go to college.
Shaun's Mom: WHY?
Shaun: Because that's what you do after high school.

Orange County is a 2002 teen comedy written by Mike White, directed by Jake Kasdan and starring Colin Hanks, Jack Black and Schuyler Fisk.note 

Shaun Brumder (Colin Hanks) is just another surfer kid from Orange County, living with his Dysfunctional Family and getting high until his best friend Lonny dies in a surfing accident and he begins to seek more purpose in life. He then discovers a book on the beach, which changes his perspective. Discontented with his family, his school, and pretty much everyone in Orange County, he dreams of becoming an accomplished writer and works hard in high school in order to achieve his dream of studying with his idol, Marcus Skinner, at Stanford. However, his application is rejected due to an administrative error on the part of his college counselor, and he tries to get into Stanford via any means necessary with the help of his family and his girlfriend. Hilarity Ensues.

Not to be confused with The O.C., which is unrelated despite the same setting.


This film contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Cindy, mainly as a result of the divorce from Bud.
  • Artistic License Geography: Lance claims he's able to drive Shaun and Ashely to Stanford "in 3 hours". Anyone familiar with the length of the California coastline knows it would usually take about twice that time at minimum, even with the fact that Lance was driving like a maniac. The distance from Orange County to Stanford is about 400 miles (643 km) meaning Lance would have be consistently traveling over 130mph to get there in 3 hours.
  • Brilliant but Lazy: Shaun, before Lonny's death.
  • College Is High School Part 2: Realized when he sees similar cliques at Stanford doing exactly the same things he hates about high school.
  • Creator Cameo: Mike White as the English teacher.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Bud and Cindy work out their differences and get back together.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Lance.
  • Dysfunctional Family
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Plot occurs all in one days time.
  • Gold Digger: Shaun's mom, Cindy, and stepmom, and neither pretend to be anything but.
    Cindy: So I married Bob, for you! I had sex with Bob four times for you! So how can you call me a bad mother?
  • Granola Girl: Ashley is obsessed with saving endangered animals.
  • Intoxication Ensues: The Dean of Admissions takes three hits of ecstasy, mistaking them for aspirin.
  • Ironic Echo Cut:
    Shaun: *narrating* My friends think I've lost my mind.
    Arlo: He's lost his mind!
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Played for laughs when Shaun's counselor gets his amazing transcript mixed up with that of Shane Brainard who has a 2.5 GPA with a low combined SAT score of 940 and because of that, Shane got into Stanford, when it should actually be Shaun. Made all the more funny in that Shane only applied to Stanford as a joke.
    • Played straight with Tanya who got into Stanford via family ties as well as her valley girlish friend Dana who got accepted to Yale.
    • Triple Subverted with Shaun who ultimately decides to stay in Orange County despite his parents managing to get him into Stanford after all the calamity when he realizes it's his eccentric group of family and friends that inspire him as a writer.
  • Jerkass: Shaun's father Bud, who abandoned his first family to marry a younger Trophy Wife, and disapproves of his dream to be a writer. He gets better over the course of the movie, though.
  • May-December Romance: Shaun's parents and step-parents.
  • Most Writers Are Writers
  • No Bisexuals: Averted with Tanya, who makes out with the female janitor in a flashback.
  • Not So Above It All: Stanford has a rep of being one of the most prestigious and selective universities ever accepting only the "best and the brightest" or the so-called "future leaders of America". However, Shaun learns that it's really nothing more than a glorified party school.
  • Place Worse Than Death: How Shaun views Orange County, due to its Stepford Suburbia qualities.
  • Precision F-Strike: Averted with Shaun's dad. Inverted with Lance, as Jack Black manages to sneak the f-word in so casually it's hardly noticable.
  • The Obi-Wan: Marcus Skinner to Shaun.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The high school counsellor, who gets Shaun's transcript mixed up with another student's, leading to the plot of the rest of the movie, and does nothing to remedy this.
  • Only Sane Man: Shaun, so bad.
  • Pyro Maniac: Lance reveals he is one as he burns down the Admissions Building at Stanford.
  • Really Gets Around: Tanya, the popular girl at school who seemingly has no standards and is prone to start making out with anyone (both male and female).
  • Surfer Dude: Shaun to begin with, Arlo and Chad throughout.
  • Stepford Smiler: Cindy.
  • The Slacker: Lance, who is post-high school, unemployed, on parole, and spends all day stoned watching Spongebob Squarepants.
  • The Stoner: Lance (of course), Arlo and Chad.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Shaun's motivation for wanting to get out of Orange County.
  • Those Two Guys: Arlo and Chad, Shaun's two friends.
  • Title Drop: Naturally all throughout.
  • To Absent Friends: Lonny's wake.
  • Valley Girl: Ashley is a mild one, but all the other girls in Shaun's high school are extreme valley girls.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Shaun wants his Dad to support his ambitions of becoming a writer.