(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)
(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

Whether your genre of choice is drama, mystery, action, thriller or comedy, Orange County provides a setting for a variety of films which are explored below. The landscapes in beautiful Orange County provide an appealing backdrop for not only movies with an optimistic, positive twist, but also serve as a suitable setting for movies with an edgier, darker storyline. Serene beach backdrops, suburban landscapes and even crime scenes are depicted in these movies set in Orange County. Check out this list to experience diverse adventures no matter your mood.

“Orange County”
Director: Jake Kasdan
Writer: Mike White
Stars: Colin Hands, Jack Black, Schuyler Fisk
Released: 2002

Orange County high-school student, Shaun Brumder, dreams of attending Stanford, becoming a writer and leaving his tumultuous family life behind after losing his friend, Lonny, to a surfing accident. Lonny’s death encouraged Shaun to reflect and decide what he wanted out of life. Unfortunately, Shaun experienced many challenges while trying to pursue his goals. The difficulties began when Shaun’s guidance counselor accidentally sent in the wrong application on his behalf to Stanford, which caused Shaun to get rejected from the university of his dreams. Determined to get into Stanford, Shaun, his girlfriend (Ashley) and brother (Lance) all work together to help Shaun get accepted.

“Gleaming the Cube”
Director: Graeme Clifford
Writer: Michael Tolkin
Stars: Christian Slater, Steven Bauer, Richard Herd
Released: 1989

Gleaming the Cube” stars Cristian Slater, Steven Bauer and Richard Herd and falls under the genres of action, mystery and drama. The police believe Brian’s adopted brother committed suicide, but Brian knows there is more to the story. Destined to find out the reason for his brother’s death, Brian begins to investigate the case himself. Ultimately, it is discovered that his brother is killed because he found out the place he works secretly sends weapons instead of medications to Vietnam.

“Life as a House”
Director: Irwin Winkler
Writer: Mark Andrus
Stars: Hayden Christensen, Kevin Kline, Kristin Scott Thomas
Released: 2001

Life as a House” tells the story of how a lonely, professionally unfulfilled man, George Monroe, learns what makes life worth living when he is dealt with a series of hardships. On the same day he is fired from his job of 20 years at an architectural firm, George finds out he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Despite the negative turn of events, George finds happiness by not having the job he hates and having time to build a new house in his Orange County neighborhood to replace of the shack he currently lives in. George also uses his free time as an opportunity to reconnect with his troubled son, Sam.

Director: Rian Johnson
Writer: Rian Johnson
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas, Emilie de Ravin
Released: 2005

Brick” is a mystery thriller that investigates the death of Brendan’s girlfriend, Emily. Brendan found Emily’s dead body in a sewage tunnel just days after she communicated to him she was alight. In an effort to find the reason for her death, Brendan uses words given to him as clues including “brick” and “pin” to help reveal the cause of her murder. While doing so, he depicts the corruption that is found in an Orange County high school. Brendan is able to solve the reasons behind her death and seeks revenge.

“Better Luck Tomorrow”
Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Ernesto Foronda, Justin Lin
Stars: Parry Shen, Jason Tobin, Sung Kang
Released: 2002

The main character in “Better Luck Tomorrow,” Ben, strives to graduate at the top of his class in his Orange County high school and is a perfectionist in every sense of the word. Wanting to be accepted by his peers, Ben’s mischievous side is revealed. He and his friends, Virgil, Daric and Han, find themselves journeying down a dark road of committing petty crimes. Ben finds his rebellious activities help him relieve stress, but ultimately cause him to go down a negative path.

Article by Stacy Brecht