Whats Orange County?

Orange County the movie may prove that Orange County the place has entered the list of regions whose names prove useful in pushing product. Call it municipal branding, which you see on pizza joints (Chicago), sandwich shops (New York) and nail salons (Beverly Hills). “Orange County” can say both “uptight” (think monied white Republicans) and “free spirit” (think Club Rubber, Dennis Rodman and the surf industry), but whatever it says, it scared up $15 million for Orange County's first weekend, just $1 million less than weekend leader Lord of the Rings.

I traveled to an LA County theater to see what Orange County said to an audience there. The crowd seemed to enjoy it. Of course, they seemed to enjoy the trailer for a one-joke pile called Sorority Boys—three guys dress like women to find shelter in a sorority. If that sounds like something you'd see on TV, you're right: that's the premise of Bosom Buddies, the sitcom that launched the career of Tom Hanks, father of Orange County star Colin Hanks.

Laughing hardest at Orange County was a woman named Ann Elder, 19, who sat behind me. She laughed when the drug-addled brother dropped his pants, when the alcoholic mother said naughty words, when the star threw himself into the pool. Elder, who attends El Camino Community College in Torrance, said she thought the film was “pretty good.” I asked her if she thought it was an accurate portrayal of what she knew life to be in Orange County.

“I guess so,” she said. “There were a lot of nice houses.”

But was it an accurate portrayal of the people of Orange County?

“I guess so,” she said. “I go to school with some people from Ontario, and they're really nice.”

I told her that Ontario was not part of Orange County.

“Oh,” she said. “What's Orange County?”

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