The ‘Gossip Girl’ gets physical with a much older man, tearing two families apart, in her scandalous new comedy!
Leighton Meester, 26, is famous for playing the ultimate alpha bad-girl on the small screen. HollywoodLife.com attended The Cinema Society with The Hollywood Reporter & Samsung Galaxy S III screening of The Oranges and we can tell you that this New York it-girl has brought her seductress villain act to the big screen.
Leighton plays Nina, a wanderlust of a party girl (emphasis on lust) who comes home for the holidays and starts an affair with her father’s best friend, House star, Hugh Laurie, 53. The relationship ruins a marriage and divides two families as everyone tries to reconcile the cheating couple’s slightly icky age gap, just in time for Christmas festivities.
Good tidings may be soured in a movie that handles a serious topic with a wacky abandon. Regardless, the audience was in stitches at the film’s New York premiere.
But let’s not peel the rind from this bittersweet fruit before we even start. Here are the top 5 reasons to go see Oranges:
#1) Alia Shawkat: The Arrested Development veteran, 23, as Hugh Laurie’s daughter, is the film’s narrator, and its much-needed moral center. She’s also the ditched childhood best friend to Nina, left behind when the shallow siren comes into her own as a beauty and decides her only priority is boys, boys, and more boys. Her closeness to the affair makes her the object of most of the situational comedy, but Alia spins tragedy to hilarious effect with every line reading she gives. Plus, she’s about as adorable as they come. She is undoubtedly a rising comedy star for the future.
#2) Adam Brody: Teen-soap stardom doesn’t always make for a smooth transition to more grown-up movie roles, but the former OC heartthrob, 32, is still making admirable use of his boyish good looks and ability to come off likable even when he’s fuming mad. He plays Toby, Hugh Laurie’s overachieving son, who crushes on Nina, and is appalled when he discovers his own father has stolen his girl. Adam usually riffs on a variation of the earnest nerd-hunk who charms with his self-effacing nervousness. But the actor has matured a bit in this role, toned down the doubtful quiver in his voice, and isn’t any less funny for his new understated confidence. If anything, his dryer-than-ever delivery will have you rooting for him, even if you know deep down he’s not going to win the girl. (Believe us, he’s better off anyway.)
#3) Leigton Meester: Leighton’s ‘Nina’ is an entitled brat who travels across continents — from one rave to the next — in a continual state of ecstasy, with no apparent job or responsibilities. The wrecking ball that is her life-force isn’t impeded at all when she returns home after a bad breakup. On to the next disaster! For all her selfishness, her parents dote on her as if her mere whims and romantic fulfillment were the family’s only priority. It’s a portrait of twenty-something latency, post-college, but pre real-life, that only generation Y (and their enabling boomer parents) could recognize as a feasible way to exist in the world. Leighton captures the narcissism of the “me generation” perfectly, and in the best possible way: by not even addressing it. It’s simply expected that her life and mistakes will be the center of attention when she returns home, and the film never lets Nina have a moment where she realizes other people exist outside her ever-expanding sphere of chaos. Leighton is as fearless and sexy a villain as any actress her age.
#4) They don’t actually show it: All the supporting characters are appropriately horrified by the age difference between Nina and Hugh Laurie’s character. The film doesn’t compound the creepiness of its conceit by presenting graphic May-December lovemaking. In fact, the narrative is completely sexless — though a full affair is implied — the pair rarely even share an onscreen kiss. A forbidden romance isn’t really the center of attention here, but rather the quip-filled havoc that results.
#5) Did I mention Alia Shawkat?: The actress was stunning at the film’s premiere in a strapless black cocktail dress, showing off the subtle arm tattoos she designed herself — her curly briar of locks pulled up to show the splendor of her irresistible freckles. Ali talked to HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY about her fun relationship with Leighton on set, despite her co-star’s intimidating onscreen persona, “I was expecting a whole different girl, and when I met her [Leighton] I was so pleasantly surprised. She was such a genuine, cool chick, and doesn’t take anything too seriously. . . She even has a really gross sense of humor, which I liked too. . . She’s like a teenage boy, kind of.”
The incredible and gracious Alia may be our new crush, but all the performers are excellent in a film that is guaranteed to make you feel a little better about your own family at the holidays. Go see it this season. Just don’t take your dad’s best friend.
As an added bonus, during the premiere after-party at The Jimmy at The James Hotel rooftop, Guests sipped on Grey Goose cocktails and the specialty L’Orange Tea! Look out for the film when it hits theaters October 5.
— Gino Orlandini
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