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Hugh Laurie Moves Into a New House!

May 2, 2012

Dr. Gregory House may be checking out of Princeton-Plainsboro in a few weeks, but Hugh Laurie’s not going far, at least geographically speaking. He stays within the Garden State as a discontentedly married dad who blows up his family’s life with an ill-advised affair in The Oranges, which just opened the first annual Montclair Film Festival. Like the town where it premiered—one of New Jersey’s coolest suburbs (and no, that’s not an oxymoron)—this refreshingly complicated comedy of bad manners is full of sophisticated surprises, not the least of which is Laurie’s charmingly restrained performance.

Unlike the arrogant addict on Fox’s long-running hospital drama, Laurie’s David Walling seems almost meek, hibernating in his man cave while his wife, Paige (the always-intriguing Catherine Keener), quietly seethes. Across the street, their best friends Terry and Carol Ostroff (Oliver Platt and Allison Janney, both at the top of their considerable games) welcome home their prodigal daughter (Gossip Girl‘s aptly petulant Leighton Meester). At first, it looks like she may rekindle a romance with the Wallings’ wonky son Toby (The O.C.‘s adorkable-before-it-was-cool Adam Brody), but the story quickly takes a twisted yet not entirely unexpected turn.

While steering clear of confronting the borderline-incestuous nature of the affair, The Oranges (written by relative newcomers Ian Helfer and Jay Reiss and directed by Entourage vet Julian Farino) nevertheless seriously explores its fallout on friendships and family relationships while remaining gut-bustingly funny. Despite a few flaws—including needless narration by Arrested Development‘s miscast Alia Shawkat as the Wallings’ Juno-esque daughter—this impressive amorality play should resonate with intelligent, non-judgmental audiences when it’s released nationally in the Fall.

The Oranges certainly bodes well for Laurie’s post-House prospects (next, he’ll play a Dickensian schoolteacher in Shrek director Andrew Adamson’s promising live-action drama Mister Pip). It also bodes well for the future of the Montclair Film Festival, which continues through this weekend with 45 more events, including a career-retrospective Q&A with Kathleen Turner I’ll be attending tonight. Yes, NYC, there is intelligent life on the other side of the Hudson, both on and off the screen.

How healthy will Hugh Laurie’s career be after House? Share your diagnosis!

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