Independent filmmakers, the good ones anyway, are always looking for a new angle; a fresh and innovative way to tell a story on film. Anything to make their movie stand out in a crowd and get them noticed. In the case of “Oranges – The Movie,” director Mike Stoklasa’s creative, er, juices, must have been in overdrive. This, you see, is a movie in which the entire cast consists of animated oranges.
That’s right, oranges.
Well, okay, there is the occasional dastardly banana — from a country called the Banana Republic, of course — plus a random egg and an evil eggplant thrown in in much the same way television used to sprinkle about token minority cast members. But by and large, this ingenious action spoof features a cast of oranges.
The venerable Professor Charles Sunkyst leads the Orange Nation, although his advisors are a little concerned about his image. Worried that the people might feel that their president is becoming too much of a recluse, isolated as the kindly widower is living alone in his mansion, Professor Sunkyst’s aides advise him to invite his three nephews to spend some time at the house. This, they feel, will burnish the president’s image as a family man.
Nice idea, except that the nephews aren’t exactly as adorable as the Kennedy kids were. They are instead a trio of old school British punks, complete with mohawks, chains, piercings, and snotty English accents. When, as a mean-spirited prank, they wake up their sleeping uncle by blasting him with the dangerously discordant strains of the new “Citanic” CD, it starts the good professor on a downward spiral into decadence and demagoguery, thus sending the world careening towards global thermonuclear warfare.
“Oranges – The Movie” is actually a surprisingly engaging little film, even after the novelty of watching talking, bouncing oranges wears off. The art direction and miniature work are excellent, with a stylistic tip of the h!
at, intentionally or not, to “South Park.” The writing is a bit forced from time to time; a little too obvious in its on the nose moments of plot exposition. It also occasionally slips into outright fits of parody — such as the “Godzilla” homage and the even more obvious lampooning of the Ewoks battle in “Return of the Jedi,” complete with a pirated score.
Unfortunately, it does this just often enough to be obtrusive… but not often enough to buy into the convention as a stylistic device. Then too, the film’s attempt to parody Nazi death camps veers from being merely tasteless to downright offensive; its otherwise clever “Soylent Orange” pun notwithstanding.
All that being said, “Oranges – The Movie” is an admirable attempt at putting something different up on the screen. Despite the aforementioned sour bits, this citrusy slice of cinema is generally a juicy bit of good fun.