“A recent poll says that New Jersey is one of the most livable states in America. The poll has a margin of error of one hundred percent.”

— Conan O’Brien

It’s Christmas in New Jersey — East Orange or West Orange, doesn’t matter.

It’s about life in both Oranges, in all the Oranges of America. This is about what life does to your plans, to your dreams and schemes, and how it suddenly can change your particular orange to a lemon.

And this is how a smart director such as young Julian Farino thinks it should go. Farino, who shot some smart, hip television shows — “Entourage” and “Made In America” — gives us two families, two slices of urban America, and tells us that, guess what? Those sitcom families you see on television? Don’t be smug and laugh at them and click the remote. They’re us.

It’s almost Thanksgiving and the air is nippy, and we find ourselves in a tree-lined New Jersey neighborhood we’re all too familiar with. It’s “Joisey.”

Two men are jogging. They are good friends, best friends for life. One is David Walling (Hugh Laurie, jumping far from his strung-out “House” doctor), who has a nice job with a company doing something that makes money, but it’s not clear what. He is married to Paige (Catherine Keener). David is in good shape. This jogging is working for him.

It’s not working for his buddy Terry Ostroff (the ever-welcome Oliver Platt), who is married to Carol (Allison Janney).

The Wallings and the Ostroffs are so close that it seems that when the Wallings inhale, the Ostroffs exhale. It’s been 20 years or more of sharing a lawn mower.

Both have daughters. The Ostroff’s Vanessa (Alla Shawkat), a chubby, intelligent, potty-mouthed introvert, is ready to move to New York to go solo in life. She’s the narrator here and constantly gets it right.

The Wallings have Nina (Leighton Meester of “Gossip Girl”), who is somewhere finishing college, hasn’t been home in five years, and wants no part of this bourgeois ballgame going on her block. She and Vanessa were day-care buddies once, but that ship sailed long ago.

Nina wouldn’t be coming home now, except that her flaky boyfriend, with whom marriage was an option, has been caught playing closet games with her roommate. So home she comes.

Let’s get to the point now. Older man David (Laurie) shares a private evening watching football in the den with younger neighbor’s daughter Nina (Meester). They share a beer and a kiss. Even thought they both know what this means, these two wandering, lonely hearts fall in love and book a motel room to join flesh. Mama Carol is suspicious. She follows daughter to the motel in an over-the-top scene, creeping around bushes like a Hal Roach slapstick cop, where David is waiting with an ice bucket. The jig is up.

All of this happens early in the story and dumps the results into the laps of the other players just as Christmas is about to happen. With lawns full of thousands of dollars of really ugly electronic reindeer and fake snowballs, turkeys on order, and seven lives tossed up into the air with no soft landings for any of them possible, the movie begins to run out of gas. But even on fumes, it’s still fun to watch Janney and Platt at the windows, Laurie and Meester peering out of theirs, and starting to get buyer’s remorse. We knew this was coming, didn’t we?

Mama Paige moves out to the local tourist B&B, charging 10 rooms to Papa David. Papa David stays in the house with his young love. Soon we’re treated to four adults watching each other with binoculars through parted curtains, while the neighbors worry about the property values going down, especially now that Nina’s old boyfriend Ethan is back, and there’s gonna be trouble (“Hey-la-day-la, my boyfriend’s back”).

Nina is now faced with an interesting menu: her old-guy love, whom everyone in town is looking at like he’s Humbert Humbert; another out-of-the-blue possibility, old friend Toby (Adam Brody) who is back from business in China; and the tattooed, nose-ringed Ethan, who is camping out on the snow among the electronic reindeer.

Now, those of us in front rows are conflicted. We’re kind of cheering for the much older lover to find a new start through a May-November romance, but we’ve come to love and feel sorry for wifey Paige. We don’t really like her, but we’re loyal fans of Catherine Keener.

We really don’t care much for the Ostroffs because they’re too cartoonish even for “Modern Family,” and smart daughter Vanessa is in control of her life and too strong to be damaged.

The final scenes will give us the closure all sitcom fans relish, but with a madhouse moment with Keener driving her car. … No, can’t tell you that. It’s the big wake-up moment, and for all of us who have lived with next-door neighbors like this bunch, it’s a catharsis.

“The Oranges” comes to a close with something for everyone — not neat and clean, but strangely satisfying.

J.P. Devine is a former stage and screen actor.

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