DirectOR: Julian Farino

CAST: Leighton Meester, Hugh Laurie, Adam Brody, Catherine Keener, Sam Rosen, Oliver Platt

Age Restriction: 16L

Running Time: 90 minutes

RATING: 2 stars (out of 5)

Diane de Beer

It’s an odd title and an even odder story, yet it boasts a cast that would suggest they should knock your socks off. Because they don’t, it heightens the dilemma of the script rather than dragging it out of the doldrums.

The suburbs will always offer rich fodder, but this time they seem to have missed the mark. More than anything, it feels as if the actors don’t buy into the premise and simply go through the motions.

It’s difficult to see someone who is a father, yet also a best friend, slip so easily into a liaison with his daughter’s former friend, who is also his best friend’s child.

It might sound confusing but it’s not really. It’s even weirder when everyone seems to take things almost lying down.

Two families, David and Paige Walling (Laurie, Keener) and Terry and Cathy Ostroff (Platt, Janney) are best friends and neighbours living on Orange Drive (hence the title) in suburban New Jersey.

What seems like a routine life driven by acknowledged and accepted rhythms suddenly goes awry when a rebellious daughter, Nina Ostroff (Meester), running away from her now former fiancé, Ethan (Sam Rosen), returns home for Thanksgiving after a five-year absence.

This triggers inconsistencies on a scale equivalent to an avalanche. For example, why would someone who has just broken off with her fiancé be looking at anyone else – immediately? There’s the rebound factor, I know, but would the families actually be trying to push her into the arms of their friend and neighbour’s son?

It’s all quite incestuous and improbable and really hampers getting to know the people and having any sympathy for their self-imposed messed-up lives.

Nothing makes sense. And there are just too many things that slip too easily into place.

Hysteria would mount in most neighbourhoods if something of this kind should unleash itself but here the woman turns her back and disappears to an ashram or something of that kind – among all the silliness, what exactly she did slipped my mind – almost blindly, as if she was waiting for someone to give her a push down that road.

It’s easy to spot where the story was trying to take you and what they were hoping to say. And with this cast, it should have been a slam dunk from beginning to end. But if they’re not buying into any of the story or their characters, how can we?

If you liked … ‘The Descendants’ … you might like this.