Colin Hanks, Schuyler Fisk, Catherine O'Hara, Jack Black, John Lithgow
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Call it "kids of the big guns." Colin Hanks, son of Tom, plays Shaun, a California surfer dude whose girlfriend, Ashley, played by Schuyler Fisk, daughter of Sissy Spacek, doesn't want him to leave Orange County to study writing at Stanford. The director, Jake Kasdan, 26, is the son of Lawrence, director of The Big Chill. Got that?
It doesn't matter. Hanks and Fisk are charming. And Kasdan has lucked out with a deft script by Mike White — both worked on TV's Freaks and Geeks — that elevates the usual teen twaddle by grounding the laughs in feeling. It helps that a wow cast, including Jack Black, as Shaun's druggie loser of a brother, and such vets as Catherine O'Hara, John Lithgow, Chevy Chase, Lily Tomlin, Garry Marshall, Harold Ramis and Ben Stiller (son of Jerry), keeps the fun at full tilt. It's the new year's first happy surprise.