"You're all a part of me and I'm a part of you, and there's no escaping that...but it makes me feel really special." - Jan Brady
directed by Betty Thomas
Here's a story of a young adult freakboy, hearing about a big screen Brady Bunch remake. He was nervous, and a little worried, that his TV memories would drown in a filmic lake.
'Til the one day he and his sister went to the theater, and they were concerned about what they might see, but this duo soon formed the opinion, that they loved The Brady Bunch Movie.
How much do my sis and I love this movie? Well, we saw it three times in the theater. Then, on the first weekend it was available to rent, we ran to the video store and then watched it at least five times over those 2 days. We were experiencing a trippy Brady overdose! Linear film viewing became an erratic, swirling time warp as we thought certain scenes had already happened while they were happening, but we were just flashing to the previous viewings. It's best we had to return that VHS tape or we might still be stuck keep on keeping on in a Brady-hole of Formica sunshine days and polyester confusion nights.
Why do my sister and I love THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE? It's a fun emotional pick me up. It's got an eclectic grungy-groovy soundtrack. It celebrates these characters by lightly poking fun and fully embracing its source material instead of viciously mocking and/or obliterating it. My narrowed half-blind eyes are on you, Starsky & Hutch and Land of the Lost, but those are freakboy on film posts for another day.
The plot, in a genius move, takes The Bradys, in all of their sweet, innocent, groovy late 1960's/early 1970's American television sitcom glory, and deposits them in the cynical, gritty cinematic 1990's. The family deals with some of their best half hour problems...Jan's glasses, Peter's puberty, Marcia's swollen nose....while seemingly oblivious to the greedy, nihilistic world around them.
Yet, not all is a sunshine day in The Brady household. Next door neighbor Mr. Dittmeyer has plans to buy up and demolish Clinton Avenue. The Bradys aren't selling, but a mix-up in mail delivery, a bill for 20,000 dollars in back taxes, gives Mr. Dittmeyer the opportunity to seize the Brady house. Now it's up to the Bunch to raise 20,000 dollars in one week so their iconic home won't be auctioned off to their sleazy neighbor. Will Greg become a rock star? Will Marcia become a teen model? Will the new Jan Brady knock over a 7-11? Will a singing competition ultimately save the day? Well, it is The Brady Bunch, so it's a safe bet that everything ends happily. It's the getting there that is a whole lot of fun!
The cast seems to be having a ball. Gary Cole plays Mike Brady with believable innocent optimism. Shelley Long is perfect as Carol Brady, who is a sweet, understanding mother who also seems more aware of reality than the rest of her family. Michael McKean as Mr. Dittmeyer, is obviously enjoying playing a slimeball. Jean Smart steals every scene as Mrs. Dittmeyer, who is typically hungover and sexually hungry for the Brady men.
As for the Brady kids, all are very good in their roles, but two stand out for me. Christine Taylor as perpetually perfect Marcia and Jennifer Elise Cox as perpetually put-upon Jan. When these two women share a scene, it's comedy gold! The modeling scene is a perfect example of their sibling rivalry chemistry. Oh, and you should also be on the lookout for a few clever original cast cameos.
The moral of this story is to follow the beat of your own drummer. The Brady Bunch sure did and that's why we are still talking about them today.
SIDE NOTE: While ROSEMARY'S BABY is my absolute favorite film, THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE may be my favorite film based on a television series, but this month of freakboy on film has only just begun!
P.S. Stay tuned for my post in The Second Great Hammer And Amicus Blogathon!
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