[box cover]

The Brady Bunch Movie

Nine times out of ten, making a movie based on a TV show is a bad idea. A hit on the small screen rarely translates to success at the cineplex, — as movies like The Avengers, McHale's Navy, and The Beverly Hillbillies were quick to prove. The rare exceptions have been the films that take the show's original concept and put a fresh spin on it, thinking outside the (idiot) box, if you will. Believe it or not, one of the best examples of that approach is The Brady Bunch Movie (1995). Despite a distinct lack of plot, director Betty Thomas's film is a surprisingly fresh, funny comedy that works because it successfully pinpoints the reason why we're all weirdly fascinated by the Bradys: They're not like anyone in real life. Even in the '70s, when the show originally aired, Mike and Carol Brady and their blended brood (Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby, and Cindy) were happier, nicer, and more well-adjusted than the rest of America. Which is why plunking them down wholesale in the mid-'90s was such an inspired idea — in the age of angst, irony, and grunge, the blithely upbeat Bradys, in their loud colors and bell-bottoms, stick out like Davy Jones at Lollapalooza. Of course, some things never change: Marcia (Christine Taylor, in one of the film's best-cast roles) is still gorgeous, Jan is still a conflicted middle child (Jennifer Elise Cox gives her a delightful psycho edge), Cindy (Olivia Hack) still lisps, Peter's (Paul Sutera) voice still cracks, Bobby (Jesse Lee) is still the blandest of the bunch, and Greg (Christopher Daniel Barnes) is still after all of the grooviest chicks at Westdale High — even if they think he's weird. And, of course, Alice (Henriette Mantel) is still making wisecracks, and mom Carol (Shelley Long) and dad Mike (Office Space's Gary Cole) are still dispensing generic advice and exchanging tame innuendoes... when they're not planning potato sack races in the Astroturf-blanketed backyard. The movie's story has the Bradys banding together to save their house from their greedy real estate developer neighbor (Michael McKean), but the thin plot is really just an excuse for stringing together a series of vignettes based on episodes of the show, from Marcia's classic "Oh, my nose!" moment to Jan's infamous experiment with a big black wig. (Cameos from the original Bradys abound as well.) But as long as it all culminates in a cheesy musical number performed in spangled, rainbow-colored jumpsuits, who cares about story? Other than the story of a man named Brady, that is. Paramount's DVD offers almost as many audio options as there are Brady children — English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby 2.0 Surround, French Stereo Surround, and English subtitles — but no extras. The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is strong and clear. Keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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