×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Brady Bunch Movie

For five years back in the early 1970s, U.S. TV homes were in the thrall of "The Brady Bunch." Two decades after their small-screen demise, the clean-cut crew is back in mythic form as "The Brady Bunch Movie." Part homage, part spoof, the deft balancing act is a clever adaptation -- albeit culled from less than pedigreed source material.

With:
Carol Brady - Shelley Long Mike Brady - Gary Cole Ditmeyer - Michael McKean Mrs. Ditmeyer - Jean Smart Alice Nelson - Henriette Mantel Greg Brady - Christopher Daniel Barnes Marcia Brady - Christine Taylor Peter Brady - Paul Sutera Jan Brady - Jennifer Elise Cox Bobby Brady - Jesse Lee Cindy Brady - Olivia Hack Sam - David Graf Eric Ditmeyer - Jack Noseworthy Doug - Shane Conrad Mrs. Cummings - RuPaul Schultzy - Ann B. Davis Grandma Brady - Florence Henderson

For five years back in the early 1970s, American TV homes were in the thrall of “The Brady Bunch.” Two decades after their small-screen demise, the clean-cut crew is back in mythic form as “The Brady Bunch Movie.” Part homage, part spoof, the deft balancing act is a clever, engaging adaptation — albeit culled from less than pedigreed source material.

Considerably more problematic are its commercial prospects. It smells like a hit, but not a breakout success. In order to get the joke, it helps to have some passing knowledge of the original. As a stand-alone, film is a tad too insular and its premise strikes a gong only when you understand the precise context of the vignette-structured piece.

With new actors in the roles, age has not withered the Brady brood. They still live in a suburban split-level house and face the travails of job, home and school. Papa Mike (Gary Cole) is hopelessly lost in a bygone era, as evidenced by his architectural designs, pat homilies and bizarre dress style of stripes, patterns and polka dots.

The kids, who wear pastels, are relentlessly cute and obsessed with being popular. Mom (Shelley Long), ever smiling, is concerned about her kids without ever being less than chirpy. In short, this family embodies values that existed only on the tube and, at that, for a brief window of time.

Into this time capsule arrives Ditmeyer (Michael McKean), an obstreperous real estate agent who needs the Brady plot to close a massive land development deal. But no ridiculous amount of money can surmount the Bradys’ love for their home and neighborhood; they exist in a world isolated from outside economic realities. Ditmeyer, who will stoop to any level to shake their resolve, is abetted, unwittingly, by a government tax notice for $ 20,000 in land assessment.

The film’s juxtaposition of contemporary and period realities is taken to extremes. The Brady bubble is lifted intact from a television soundstage circa 1970. Great care has been taken to replicate the artificiality of over-lit, modestly furnished sets. The only thing missing is the guiding influence of a laugh track.

But once out the door, director Betty Thomas opts for real locations and a natural look for a walk on the wild side of L.A. It’s a truly inspired visual contrast, not just a gimmick to elicit cheap laughs. Besides, the family’s ’70s sensibility remains intact regardless of backdrop.

The big surprise of “The Brady Bunch Movie” is its overall artistic care and the high level of technical craft. Transcending nostalgic affection, pic approaches a kind of religious devotion that makes those not of the “Brady” generation ponder why they were oblivious to this “important” social phenomenon.

Thomas has a wonderful cast of young performers (likely nurtured on “Brady” reruns) who understand the gospel of groovy Greg, perfect Marcia and misunderstood Jan. But best of all is Cole — he makes Mike Brady his own as if the role presented the challenge of interpreting a new Hamlet.

The cynical might characterize this deft take on an icon of pop culture as “Much Ado About Brady.” The slightly frightening conclusion is that, by fade-out , even the stony-hearted will believe in this Bunch.

The Brady Bunch Movie

Production: A Paramount release. Produced by Sherwood Schwartz, Lloyd Schwartz, David Kirkpatrick. Executive producer, Alan Ladd Jr. Co-producers, Barry Berg, Jenno Topping. Directed by Betty Thomas. Screenplay, Laurice Elehwany, Rick Copp, Bonnie Turner, Jerry Turner, based on characters created by Sherwood Schwartz.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Mac Ahlberg; editor, Peter Teschner; music, Guy Moon; production design, Steven Jordan; art direction, William Durrell Jr., Nanci Roberts; costume design, Rosanna Norton; sound (Dolby), Russell Williams II; assistant director, Richard Graves; casting, Deborah Aquila, Jane Shannon. Reviewed at Paramount Studios, L.A., Feb. 4, 1995. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 88 min.

With: Carol Brady - Shelley Long Mike Brady - Gary Cole Ditmeyer - Michael McKean Mrs. Ditmeyer - Jean Smart Alice Nelson - Henriette Mantel Greg Brady - Christopher Daniel Barnes Marcia Brady - Christine Taylor Peter Brady - Paul Sutera Jan Brady - Jennifer Elise Cox Bobby Brady - Jesse Lee Cindy Brady - Olivia Hack Sam - David Graf Eric Ditmeyer - Jack Noseworthy Doug - Shane Conrad Mrs. Cummings - RuPaul Schultzy - Ann B. Davis Grandma Brady - Florence Henderson

More Film

  • 'Brokeback Mountain,' 'Jurassic Park' Added to

    'Brokeback Mountain,' 'Jurassic Park,' 'My Fair Lady' Added to National Film Registry

    “Brokeback Mountain,” “Jurassic Park,” “My Fair Lady,” “The Shining,” “Hud” and “Monterey Pop” are among the best known titles among this year’s additions to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. A place on the list — always made up of 25 films — guarantees the film will be preserved under the terms [...]

  • Christian Bale'Vice' film premiere, Arrivals, Los

    Christian Bale Recalls Meeting Donald Trump: 'He Thought I Was Bruce Wayne'

    With Christian Bale’s latest film, “Vice,” a political dramedy, it’s inevitable ties will be drawn between the film and the current political administration and its chief, President Donald Trump. On the red carpet for the premiere of “Vice,” Bale, who stars as former Vice President Dick Cheney, shared that he met the current president while [...]

  • ‘Bumblebee’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad

    ‘Bumblebee’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Bumblebee.” Ads placed for the sci-fi/action film had an estimated media value of $6.31 million through Sunday for 941 national [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds Stunt

    Film News Roundup: Ryan Reynolds' Michael Bay Film '6 Underground' Wraps Production

    In today’s film news roundup, shooting has wrapped on Ryan Reynolds’ “6 Underground,” BAFTA LA names new board members, and the WGA East honors longtime exec Randall Jasta.  PRODUCTION Michael Bay’s Ryan Reynolds-starrer “6 Underground” has wrapped production. Netflix and Skydance Media completed principal photography in Abu Dhabi on the action-adventure, which reportedly carries a $125 [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen on Broadway

    Film Review: 'Springsteen on Broadway'

    Hope you like the 69-year-old version of Bruce Springsteen’s face, because it’s virtually all you’re going to see for the two hours and 40 minutes of the filmed “Springsteen on Broadway” — other than the bare brick wall of the theater casting a dim glow in the background beyond those gray sideburns, and two songs’ [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'A Star Is Born,' 'Vice' Lead 2018 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Nominees

    The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) announced their nominees for the 8th annual AACTA International Awards on Tuesday. “A Star Is Born” and “Vice” lead the pack, with five and four nominations respectively. The two leading films compete with “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Roma” for best film, while Nicole Kidman becomes the [...]

  • China's Government Orders Talent Home to

    After Golden Horse Awards Embarrassment, China Orders Talent Home for Huabiao Ceremony

    China’s government quietly ordered top Chinese talent back to the mainland from abroad this past weekend to attend a Beijing ceremony for its highest film industry honors, the loosely bi-annual Huabiao Awards. The move came just weeks after it directed mainland film executives and talent to snub after-parties and return home as quickly as possible [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content