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A VERY BRADY SEQUEL

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Shelley Long, Gary Cole, Tim Matheson, Henriette Mantel
Director:  Betty Thomas
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Paramount
Features:  None
Length:  89 Minutes
Release Date:  June 10, 2003

“Oh, my God…I’m trippin’ with the Bradys…”

Film ***1/2

Kitsch me if you can…the Bradys are back, and better than ever!

While The Brady Bunch Movie brought our favorite 70s time capsule family into the 90s and established a new comic tone for television’s most well known tic-tac-toe clan of nine, A Very Brady Sequel updates it with a better storyline…not to mention some new and daring ideas that might seem a bit shocking, but are terrifically funny nonetheless!

When a con man (Matheson) pretends to be Carol Brady’s (Long) long missing and presumed dead first husband Roy in order to get his hands on a priceless artifact in the Brady living room (actually that God awful horse that sat below the stairway), he figures with the family’s innocence and trusting, it’ll be an easy steal.  But life for a 90s guy in the quintessential 70s household won’t be as easy as it sounds!

He stands to make millions, if he can only put up with the wide-eyed stares of the Brady kids, including the awkward permanently-in-the-middle Jan who decides to take to him as a father!

Okay, the plot is easily described, but a sketchy outline doesn’t really give you the depths of comical wonderfulness this movie explores.  Starting with…are you ready for this?…a possible blossoming romance between Marcia and Greg…after all, they aren’t really blood brother and sister!  There’s also the complications caused to Mike (Cole) and Carol’s relationship caused by Roy’s sudden appearance, Peter learning to be more manly under Roy’s cynical guidance, and the appearance of Jan’s imaginary boyfriend George Glass.

Two sequences in particularly make me chuckle every time I think about them:  one is a dinner table bit in which Roy unknowingly ingests some magic mushrooms that involves animation, music, and an almost Yellow Submarine kind of vibe.  The other is when Roy is escorted into town by the Brady kids, who dance and sing in their usual way, and a reluctant Roy is seen begrudgingly doing the moves with them!

The best part about these movies continues to be the great cast, with dead-on perfect impressions of the original show’s acting troupe by not only Shelley Long, Gary Cole and Henriette Mantel as Alice, but a wonderfully winning cast of kids that infect the movie with energy, charm, and warmhearted parody.

I had always wished for a third Brady movie with this cast, but for whatever reason, it wasn’t meant to be.  Kids grow up and out of their early roles…hell, even original Greg Brady Barry Williams is spoofing Eminem these days!  But I’ll always be grateful that the team dipped into the well a second time, and found an even better treasure with the sequel than the original.  This is simply very funny stuff.

Video ****

The original film looked good, the second one even better.  This anamorphic transfer has all of the colorful glory of its predecessor, but with no complaints as far as visible grain or texture.  Images are sharp and clearly rendered, tones are rich and distinct, and detail level is strong throughout.  The animated sequences are a nice touch as well!

Audio ***

This disc offers a good 5.1 soundtrack, with most of the energy actually coming in the opening adventure sequence, where a big storm surrounds you from all sides and kicks in from the .1 channel.  For the rest of the way, the dialogue is clean and clear, the songs come across nicely, and the dynamic range is formidable.

Features (zero stars)

Nothing.

Summary:

Sequels rarely live up to the original, but Paramount is a studio that’s done it at least twice.  That may be the only way to link up The Godfather and The Brady Bunch movies, but hey…A Very Brady Sequel is a comic delight from start to finish, building on the groundwork of the original and taking it to funnier and riskier heights with warmth and charm in its parody.