Judge David Johnson is a terrific source of Vitamin C.
Revenge is a dish best served…with fruit!
For any of you that have ever longed for a feature-length action-comedy starring fruit mounted on Magic Markers, there's good news: this is an action-comedy starring fruit mounted on Magic Markers!
Oranges: Revenge of the Eggplant tells the story of Professor Charles Sunkyst (bad dum dum!), a sort of Indiana Jones adventure-scholar type, who's just returned to his college from a high-octane mission to "Bananastan." There he battled terrorist bananas, but at home, a greater threat looms: his arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggplant, has just escaped from prison and seeks vengeance against Sunkyst, who put him behind bars in the first place. Now Sunkyst and a small band of feisty pieces of fruit must battle Eggplant and his nefarious schemes, which include attacking everyone with a robot and turning the school's populace into zombies.
If that plot description makes this goofy little puppetry movie sound stupid, well there's a reason for it. I'm not a very talented writer. Also, the movie's pretty stupid. But, stupid in a good way. Hey, if you're setting out to make a farce action flick starring fruit on sticks, you know going in that your labor of love will be categorized in the "weird-ass crap" genre. The good news: Mike Stoklasa and Rich Evans have embraced that label and crafted a film that, while hit-and-miss in the laughs category, stands proudly as something new, interesting and entertaining. In short, I liked Oranges, and if you're fan of far-out "alternative puppetry" comedy not unlike Team America, I think you'll dig it too.
Oranges has a lot going for it, not the least of which is the realization that the guys behind it worked pretty damn hard to make the film. As film "critics" (I still consider myself a "hack" actually), I think we tend to lose sight of the amount of labor that goes into a film even if it is something like Chupacabra Terror. Oranges bleeds effort and man-hours with every shot. Are the sets immaculate, high-detailed constructions? No. Are the puppets the products of Jim Henson Studios wizards? Um, that would be a negative. Yet it doesn't mean the filmmakers didn't bust their hump putting together the thing, and the details that can be found in the movie are far from half-assed. A behind-the-scenes documentary accompanies the film, and the work to bring Oranges to, er, fruition, is vividly displayed.
Now we don't award As for effort around here, and if all that work, um, produced a fat turd of a flick, then no amount of empathy toward the filmmakers would grant you the 90 wasted minutes of your life back. Oranges works though, and while it's not a flawless laugh riot, enough gags hit throughout the runtime to keep it afloat. The flick's narrative progression is basically set-piece to set-piece, with Sunkyst battling terrorists, navigating the drunken ravages of a frat party, hanging out at a strip club (bananas that peel) and finally fending off hordes of zombie fruit. Director Mike Stoklasa keeps the action rolling, and the finale is an all-in mélange of exploding fruits and rudimentary visual effects work.
There are some slow spots and Sunkyst is an annoying character with a grating voice. And yeah, a bunch of jokes tank, but no comedy is perfect. Plus I'm willing to cede some good grace on account of the ridiculous amount of creativity that got piped into this production. The script isn't nearly as depraved as I was expecting, what with the track record of "adult-oriented" puppet projects and the warning on the back of the disc. In reality, Oranges is pretty tame—but still plenty sophomoric.
Full frame, stereo all the way, with neither tech spec proving memorable. The bonus feature are decent, however; the aforementioned making-of is very good, the director's commentary offers interesting tidbits and a string of deletes scenes deliver on the debauchery promised by the disc case. Two words for you: citrus porn.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Tempe Video
• Director's Commentary
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