THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE
Review by Michael Jacobson
Shelley Long, Gary Cole, Michael McKean, Henriette Mantel
Director: Betty Thomas
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Length: 88 Minutes
Release Date: June 10, 2003
there’s a BRADY in our yard!!”
happens when America’s favorite family from the 70s ends up in the 90s?
For them, not much. For the
rest of the world…watch out!
Brady Bunch Movie is a nearly perfect parody aimed mostly at those who knew the show well
(who doesn’t?). It’s a
terrifically entertaining mix of in-jokes, innuendos, cultural clash, and maybe
even a little poignancy. There’s
just something heartwarming about this family’s ability to stay true to
themselves and innocently isolated from the rest of the world.
cast is superb from top to bottom with performers who make the parody work by
taking their characters seriously. Shelley
Long is pitch perfect as mother Carol Brady, while Gary Cole’s voice and
mannerisms as father Mike Brady made me laugh every time he opened his mouth.
Both performances recall Florence Henderson and the late Robert Reed with
style and heart. Henriette Mantel
is also a revelation, bringing back Ann B. Davis’ Alice the maid to vivid,
the Bradys were all about the kids, and this troupe is up to the task.
In an era where cute kids are smeared all over the screen regardless of
whether or not they can really act, it’s wonderful to see SIX perfectly cast
young actors, who each recall their 70s counterparts with detail, from Greg’s
smarmy songwriting and Marcia’s oh-so-popular schtick, from Peter’s cracking
voice to Jan’s middle child syndrome, to Bobby’s pluckiness and Cindy’s
lisp. The young stars have a great chemistry with each other and
with their veteran co-stars.
plot? Well, it’s the story of a
lovely lady…ah, never mind. The
plot is probably the weakest aspect of the movie, and the least important.
But for the curious, it involves the unscrupulous neighbor Ditmeyer (McKean)
and his bid to remove all the families in the neighborhood, including the
you-know-whos, for a chance to make a killing in a real estate deal.
But our somehow-formed-family isn’t keen on giving up their home, even
for a juicy payoff. However, when
it turns out the Bradys owe $20,000 in back taxes, all may be lost…or do the
Brady kids manage to save the day in spite of their decade imparity?
what the film lacks in story in more than makes up for with delicious satire and
humor. I laughed hard and often at
everything from Greg’s come-ons (“Hey, groovy chick…you’re happening in
a far out way…”) to the double entendres exchanged between Mike and Carol or
between Alice and longtime boyfriend Sam the butcher.
I loved the exaggeration of Jan’s jealousy of Marcia into an outright
psychosis. I really loved
when a bewildered Davy Jones finds his song “Girl” updated behind him by a
modern high school rock band!
most of all, I loved how the film celebrated the Bradys as a cultural misstep
from start to finish. In a world of
grunge, crime, overt sexuality and cynicism, the Bunch remains bright and
cheerful, warm and loving, and blissfully ignorant. Fans who grew up with the original show will realize this is
just taking the original premise to new heights…we all knew even then that the
Bradys were an innocent exaggeration of family ideals.
I know…my family was nothing like the Brady Bunch in the 70s, although
we probably did dress almost as badly.
family doesn’t fit it, but it’s the rest of the world that’s uncomfortable
with it, not them. One neighbor
remarks incredulously about six kids and only one bathroom…without a toilet!
In another scene, Greg and Marcia naively escape a carjacking without
ever realizing the danger they were in…though who would want to steal a 70s
station wagon is beyond me. Even Mike Brady as an architect is reduced to a “dry
well”…every design he concocts looks awfully familiar.
real genius of The Brady Bunch Movie is that it appeals to both the cynic
and the idealist in us, even though the movie never steps into cynical territory
itself. We’re invited to laugh
with the Bradys and celebrate their cultural peculiarity, while at the same time
marvel at how they managed to shield themselves from a world going mad around
is simply a charming, very funny film with all the right ingredients:
spirited cast, terrific premise, loving attention to detail, and humor
coming from things both innocent and naughty.
A better storyline might have put it over the top, but as much fun as I
always have watching this movie, that’s really nothing to cancel the family
trip to Hawaii over.
TRIVIA: Look for original
series stars Barry Williams, Florence Henderson, Ann B. Davis and Christopher
Knight in small roles!
did nice work with this anamorphic transfer…in particular, the sunny colors of
the 70s are bright and radiant, and a nice contrast to the grayer tint of the
“real” world. Images are
generally clean and clear throughout, with only a minor touch of noticeable
grain here and there against brighter backgrounds.
5.1 mix offers solid if not overly abundant work for the rear channels,
accentuating the bluster of bigger scenes like cars on the highway or the big
school dance. The subwoofer is used
sparingly. Dialogue is cleanly
delivered, the music sounds great, and dynamic range is fairly good for a
situational styled comedy.