I discovered something about myself while watching “Oranges: Revenge of the Eggplant”: I don’t like feature length, action adventure films that star talking fruits. “Oranges: Revenge of the Eggplant” is the handiwork of Rich Evans and Mike Stoklasa who began working with animated fruit in high school. The reoccurring main character in their films, Dr. Sunkyst, is an actual 7 year-old orange, “preserved by refrigeration”. The film recently won Best Comedy Feature at the Microcinema Festival in South Dakota.
“Oranges: Revenge of the Eggplant”, a live action film featuring miniature sets and talking produce, opens with a war scene. Dr. Sunkyst (Rich Evans), an 80 year old “action scientist”, rescues the president in Bananastan (hopefully the level of humor we’re dealing with is becoming clear). The stress from war (and nauseating shaking camera movements) forces Dr. Sunkyst into retirement. Apparently, however, Dr. Sunkyst is much needed by OSU (Orange State University) and is recruited heavily (I’m not kidding, this is a good 15 minutes of the film) by Dean Crispus (David C. Hayes), a head of lettuce with eyes and a mustache. Dr. Sunkyst decides to befriend several students including Jessica (Katherine Carpenter), who is a student by day, stripper by night (there is a strip club scene where bananas are peeled), Jerome (Riley O’Malley) an “apple-American” who has issues with oranges and Erik (Jeff Dolniak) who is a frat orange (yes, there are oranges passed out in pools of chunky pulp and yogurt). The film contains a sub-context of sorts about racism or “fruitism”, but it’s more than a bit unclear. Antics ensue and increase as we near the film’s central event; the annual science fair where several projects are misemployed and havoc begins. Worst of all, Dr. Sunkyst has a surprise visit from an evil eggplant that seeks revenge for an innocent mistake made by a young Sunkyst in 1935. It’s left up to Dr. Sunkyst and crew to save the University from the clutches of evil. Throughout the film Jerome, the “apple-American”, constantly makes statements like, “Yo, man” and “don’t trip”, there’s also a dread-locked orange named Jake (Kevin Moyers) that says “dude” more times than I could count, needless to say much of the dialog seems forced. In one section two oranges are sitting in the bleachers at a football game, an arrow goes past one of the oranges’ head and lands in an apple sitting behind them, one of the oranges looks at the other and says, “WILLIAM, you are one lucky guy.” the other responds, “You’re TELLing me.” There is also a scene where an eggplant on death row is being taken to his execution and an orange yells, “eggplant walking”, if you are laughing now, see this film immediately.
At this point I have to stop myself and fully realize, I just summarized an hour and a half film featuring oranges and apples; I feel a mid-life crisis beginning to set in. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on the movie, it does have a particular appeal (if this line were in the film it would be pronounced “a-peel”), mainly within the 10 – 13 year-old boy range. The sets are cute and extremely detailed, the lighting is well done, a lot of time and effort obviously went into production (which is a kind of creepy thought) and the film does have good intentions. There’s also a scene with fruit that have turned into zombies- I love zombies. I know at least one adult who would like it, I should probably mention that he collects “Star Wars” figures, wears t-shirts that say things like, “will work for bandwidth” and rarely leaves the house except for the occasional trip to Comp USA. I’m sure that this film does have an audience out there, but I have to admit, it’s just not me. I actually might have liked the film had it been a twenty minute short and there’s absolutely no reason why it couldn’t be cut to that length, but as a feature I found it somewhat painful. The script is juvenile, but that’s par for the course. Some of the voice-over delivery is average, some is well below. I suddenly feel incapable of reviewing the performance of talking fruit any further; maybe this one is a bit over my head. Let me summarize by saying, if you enjoy Mad Libs, the thumb movies (“Thumb Wars”, “The Blair Thumb” and such) and really bad jokes, there’s a good chance you will like “Oranges: Revenge of the Eggplant”.