Februrary 5, 2013

The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)
Starring Gary Cole, Shelley Long, Christopher Barnes, and Christine Taylor

"Jan, a real friend likes you for who you are, not what's on your face. If you judge your friends for passing judgment on you, you're not only judging yourself you're judging your friends for judging you. And that would be using bad judgment. "
-Mike Brady

Comments:    Okay, now we're talking.  Now this is one hilarious movie.  In fact, out of all the movies I have written about so far on the countdown, I am quite certain that THIS is the entry that will generate the most feedback.  I have no doubt whatsoever that there are a ton of closet Brady Bunch Movie fans just lurking around in the weeds out there, just waiting for any sort of an excuse to talk about it.  Because this is the type of movie where when people love it, they REALLY REALLY love it.  And people who don't love it, well generally they have never seen it, or else they just thought it looked stupid and they never gave it a chance.  

But I have absolute one hundred percent confidence in this entry.   There may be no movie on earth with a better "how much I enjoyed it" versus "how much I expected it enjoy it" ratio than The Brady Bunch Movie.

For starters, take everything you know about TV shows that were made into movies, and throw that right out the window.  Seriously, forget all TV show into movie remake/reboot crap whatsoever.  Because this one is nothing like any of them.  This one shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath as 99% of them.

The Brady Bunch movie is more than just a stupid remake of a TV show.  No, if anything, this movie is more like Airplane!  It is more of a spoof.  And like Airplane, it happens to be a very clever spoof.  In fact this is easily one of the more ingenious comedies I have seen in the past twenty five years.  It is the type of screenplay that I was absolutely jealous of the first time I saw it on a movie screen.  I was jealous of it because it was such a simple idea, and it was such a brilliant idea, and anyone could have done it if they had thought of it.  Yet someone else thought of it before I thought of it, and as much as I loved the movie at the same time it also sort of pissed me off.  Damnit, anyone could have written an ironic tribute like this.  But prior to The Brady Bunch Movie, nobody ever had.  This type of a movie was just sitting out there, just waiting to be made.  

In many ways, The Brady Bunch Movie was a trailblazer as much as something like Pulp Fiction was a trailblazer.  It ushered in a whole new era of sarcastic ironic parody tributes.

Okay, for those of you who have never seen it before (and I honestly feel bad for you if that is the case, this movie is an absolute gem the first time you see it), The Brady Bunch Movie is the story of... duh... well it is the story of The Brady Bunch.  You know, Mike, Carol, Alice, Bobby, Peter, Cindy, Marcia, Jan, Greg, and maybe sometimes a dog.  You know who they are.   That show has been on TV since long before I was even born.  And I am nearly 40 years old.  I can't imagine there is a man, woman, or child over the age of ten in America who has not at least heard of The Brady Bunch.

It might not be the most beloved TV show of all time, but it sure has been one of the more resilient ones.  

Potato sack race!

Well the Brady Bunch Movie is the story of the Bradys.  Only if they were somehow transported from 1970 all the way up to 1995.  So the Brady Family is basically smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles in the mid 90's.  Only instead of being surrounded by astroturf and bell bottoms and The Monkees and the Dittmeyers, now they are surrounded by grunge and carjackings and rap music and cynicism.  

Okay, so the Dittmeyers are still there too.  You never see the Brady neighbors on the TV show, but we finally get to see them in the movie.  That was a nice touch.

But here is the catch.  The Bradys may have moved to the 90's, but they don't seem to KNOW that they have moved to the 90's.  They are still the exact same groovy 70's family that they were on the TV show.  So they are still walking around in the exact same bell bottoms, and the exact same 70's clothes, and Greg still drives to school in a station wagon with a CB radio and an 8 track, and they don't seem to realize that everybody else in the neighborhood thinks that they are psychopath freaks from hell.  So the entire movie is the weird 70's Brady family just blissfully wandering along in the middle of 1990's Los Angeles, and everybody else trying to figure out what the hell to make out of them.

Greg being shot down yet again in the 90's dating scene

There are SO many great scenes in this movie.  So many great lines, so many great character interactions, so many funny little moments.  I could sit here and think about it for half an hour, and I am not sure I could even narrow it down to my top ten.   I mean, there is one scene in the movie where (just like in the TV show) Peter throws a football in the yard at Marcia and it breaks her nose.  So she is all bummed out that her date that night will take one look at her nose and will want to cancel the date.

That is the exact storyline from one of the Brady Bunch TV episodes, by the way.  Marcia breaks her nose and she is worried what her date will think.  It is arguably one of the more famous Brady Bunch episodes of all time.

Well, in the movie, the whole football/nose situation is treated a little bit differently.  Why?  Well because that's what the movie does.  That is why it is so brilliant.   It takes a very familiar Brady Bunch storyline, and it sort of warps it a little bit.

In the movie, Marcia's date shows up at the house, and he takes one look at her swollen nose.  And she stands there all ashamed and embarrassed.  And then the little horndog cheers her up by informing her, "That's okay, it's not your nose that I'm after."  And then Marcia smiles, and the happy little Brady Bunch music starts up, and Mike and Carol smile at each other over what a nice young man their daughter has chosen to go out with.

And then the nice young man takes Marcia out to Lover's Lane so he can attempt to plow her like a potato field.

Yes, that is the type of comedy you will see in The Brady Bunch Movie.

Marcia Brady.  Who the kids at school all know "is harder to get into than a Pearl Jam concert."

The Brady Bunch Movie came out in 1995 and I remember when I first saw the posters for it, I was not all that impressed.  I remember thinking, meh.  I've already seen The Brady Bunch.  Everybody my age has already seen The Brady Bunch.  Why would I ever want to see a movie version of it?  What would be the point of that?

I held out on seeing this movie in the theater for a couple of weeks.   In fact I actually had no interest in seeing it at all in the theater whatsoever.  It is the type of movie that, in most cases, I never would have given the time of day.  

Unless, well, unless for some odd reason it started getting really good word of mouth.

As a wise man once said, "Wherever you go, there you are."

Oh, and good word of mouth it quickly started getting.

The Brady Bunch Movie hadn't been out for more than a couple of days, and on the internet message boards (yes there was an internet in 1995, although it sure didn't look like it does now) people were already starting to buzz about it.  Everywhere I looked, on every movie website or message board, people were talking about how much funnier this movie was than they expected it to be.  And these weren't all baby boomers who were saying that either, nor were they children of the early 70's who had grown up with the TV show.  No, most of the people who were raving about this movie in 1995 were people my age, they were college students.  And for a movie like THIS to get a hold of a cynical young audience like THAT, well that really doesn't happen very often.  

The minute I saw all these college students raving about The Brady Bunch Movie, the minute I saw how many young people (including a lot of movie snobs!) were going on and on about how clever it was and how funny it was, well at that point I knew that I had to see it.  This was one of those word of mouth movies that even back in 1995 you could tell was almost guaranteed to turn into a cult favorite.

"Cindy, you know by tattling on your friends, you're really just tattling on yourself.
            By tattling on your friends, you're just telling them that you're a tattletale.
Now is that the tale you want to tell?"

I went to the Brady Bunch Movie with my girlfriend Diana (now my wife Diana) in 1995.  And we just absolutely loved it.  LOVED IT.  Man this was one hilarious movie.  Every last detail about the characters, and the costumes, and the dialogue, was just perfect.  I mean, right down to the fact that Jan swings her hair when she walks, and Marcia sometimes mispronounces "school" as "skyewl."  That happens on the TV show too (if you pay attention).  And in the movie they just absolutely nailed it.

They also turned Jan into a complete psychopath

What is funny about how much I loved this movie is the fact that I'm not even all that big a Brady Bunch fan.  I mean, yeah I know most of the episodes, and yeah I know most of the major themes and storylines.  But I don't know every single little detail about every obscure little episode.  I was never all that big a Brady Bunch junkie.  

So yeah, I wasn't all that big a Brady Bunch fan.  I didn't get 100% of all the little jokes in the movie.  But my wife, on the other hand, well she is a HUGE Brady Bunch fan.  She knows every single little subplot of every TV episode that was ever made.  She is the type of person where you can say "Hey Greg loses the blueprints for his father" and she can immediately tell you what the subplots were for that episode and what clothes all the kids were wearing.  She has always had that type of scarily impressive knowledge when it comes to Brady Bunch trivia.

Well my wife sat through this movie and she just LOVED it.  Every five minutes she would point out some little detail to me that no one else in the theater would have caught, but she did because she knew all the episodes so well.  She would say things like "Hey that's Sam the Butcher's shirt.  One of the extras has it on."  Or "Hey that's the exact same sentence Greg said to Peter in episode xxx."  She was right on top of nearly every little subtle joke or running background gag in the entire movie.  And I was impressed when she started pointing out how many of them there were.

Basically what I am trying to say here is that whoever wrote this movie knew the TV show very well.  VERY well.  To the point that there was actually one great subtle joke in the movie that my wife didn't even catch.


The joke that I will always remember from this movie (and the one that forever clinches its place in my comedy movie hall of fame) is the song that Greg is singing whenever he is trying to hit on a girl.  In the movie, Greg is forever walking around school with a guitar.  And whenever he sees a groovy chick who is really happening in a far out way that he wants to ask out, he will walk over to her and he will start singing her a song.

"Clowns never laughed before.  Beanstalks never grew.  Ponies never ran before, until I met you."

Now I thought that this was just a throwaway joke.  I thought that the writers just came up with a lame 70's song that Greg might have written for a girl, and they wrote it specifically for the movie.  And my wife Diana thought that too.  Neither of us had any idea that was a song that Greg Brady actually sang one time in an episode on the TV show.

Greg and his infamous "clowns" song

I didn't get that joke for nearly half a decade.  Because it was five years later, and I remember that day like it was yesterday.  Diana had an episode of The Brady Bunch on in the background at home, and I think she was cross stitching or something on the couch.  And I heard her start laughing.  

I came in the room to see what was cracking her up.  

And holy flurking shnit.

I don't remember what episode was on TV, but it was probably one of the first Johnny Bravo episodes.  And there was Greg, tuning his guitar.  And he was humming a little song as he was tuning.  And sure enough, that was the exact tune he was singing under his breath.  "Clowns never laughed before.  Beanstalks never grew.  Ponies never ran before, until I met you."

It was just a little throwaway moment from a TV episode in 1972 or 1973, yet the makers of The Brady Bunch Movie remembered it and they put it in the movie in 1995.  And my wife, one of the biggest Brady Bunch nerds alive, didn't even catch it for nearly five years.

Now THAT is the type of comedy movie you have to be impressed by.


In the end, The Brady Bunch Movie is one of my favorite comedy movies of the 90's, and it is an absolute must see if you have even HEARD of the TV show.  Forget seeing every episode, forget being a huge fan of the TV show.  If you have even HEARD of the TV show you will get a kick out of this movie.  It is probably one of the top five spoof movies I have ever seen in my life.  Every little detail, every little homage, every little side joke or background joke or callback joke or character detail is just perfect.  Like I said before, whoever sat down and wrote this movie really knew their stuff.   It is an absolute orgy of subtle little Brady Bunch references.

And the clothes are just ridiculous

By the way, before I sign off, here is the funny part.  When I first sat down to write this review, I originally only intended to write about the actors.  I originally planned to sit here and tell you how amazing Gary Cole was as Mike Brady (who is my favorite character in the movie; in the movie Mike Brady is forever handing out lectures like he is Captain Obvious.)  I was originally going to write about how Christine "Skewl" Taylor was an absolute dead ringer for Marcia.  I originally planned to write about how funny Jennifer Elise Cox was as Jan and how awesome Shelley Long was as Carol.

That was the original plan for my review.  But I got so wrapped up in writing about how much I love the movie, and how funny it is, that now I don't have any more time to write about the actors.  And that is quite amazing considering the fact that EVERY SINGLE ACTOR IN THIS MOVIE IS PERFECT.  Seriously, find me a comedy with more perfect actors in their roles than in the Brady Bunch Movie.  I'm not sure you will be able to do it.

Although mostly, it is all about Marcia

In the end, I guess that is my review.  I love the Brady Bunch Movie so much that I wrote my entire review before I remembered to even mention all the hilarious actors in it.  I got so wrapped up in writing about how funny it was, and how brilliant the storyline was, and how deep and subtle some of the references were, that I forgot there were even actors in it at all.  There aren't many movies you can say that about.  

Oh, and be sure to keep an eye out for the one and only Davy Jones.  Even though the movie is set in 1995, Marcia still has an enormous crush on him (again, this is lifted right out of the TV show).  And that always cracks me up because in 1995 most people in the world had no idea who Davy Jones still was.  My wife barely even knew who he was, and she knew the TV show.  So watch for Davy's cameo at the dance at the end of the movie.  That is my favorite scene.

Remember, nobody could bring 50 year old chaperones to their knees like Davy Jones could.  Nobody.

"He's dreeeeeeeamy," said no one ever in 1995

* My favorite IMDB user reviews about The Brady Bunch Movie:

Irony at its finest - 12 August 2004
This is the film that started the ironic re-makes, most recently seen in Starsky and Hutch. This is a fantastically funny film, especially if you remember the old TV series. It pokes fun at the original (only gently) and has bucket loads of in-jokes and references. It takes you back to all those American TV shows that we got in England and were shown on Saturday morning TV and all the time through the holiday. The appearance of the Monkees just tops it off. If you're expecting a faithful re-creation of the original Brady Bunch, you're going to be a bit shocked. If you're expecting gross-out gags and teen humour, you're going to be disappointed. However, if you want a funny, clever, tongue-in-cheek and, yes, heart-warming comedy with a modern spin, definitely check this out. Finally, this film also showcases the genius that is Gary Cole, probably one of the most under-rated actors around. Also see Office Space for more of this superb actor, and Midnight Caller and American Gothic, if you can find them.

Brilliant idea - bring the Brady Bunch forward 25 years! - 27 August 2009
When this movie was announced way back when, my first reaction was 'can't they leave anything alone?' Especially when the first descriptions said Marcia would have a gay girlfriend... I just thought the whole thing would be sickening. I was wrong.

The beauty of this movie is that they take the Brady Bunch, right out of 1970, and drop them into 1995. HOW such a thing could be, I can't say, but it was a brilliant idea. Somehow, in the middle of the 1990's, the Brady family is firmly entrenched in 1970. They've got the cars, the clothes, the music, it's like the whole world around them doesn't exist! They either don't notice, or don't care. For example, Greg drives Marcia to their high school in Mrs. Brady's station wagon and along the way they are listening to an 8 track tape of Davy Jones singing. WHERE would they get an 8 track tape like that - and in 1995?! Well, don't worry too much about that, just accept it and laugh at it. Okay, so they get to school and Marcia says she has written to Davy Jones to see if he will sing at their school's dance. Greg scoffs at the idea because 'a big star like that is too busy to come to our dance!' I mean, where do they see Davy Jones as a star at all in the 1990's? He's got no hits, you'd never see him on TV... yet to the Bradys, he is a superstar and they are playing 8 track tapes of him gotten from who-knows-where.

Where would they get their flare-bottom pants and gaudy patterned clothes? The square-toed mid-heel shoes? The paisley shirts? Their cars are right out of 1970 or so (though not the same cars they drove on the TV show). Where? When? How? You don't ask such questions, you just accept and laugh at the insanity of it all.

The beauty of this movie is watching the 1970 Brady Family as they interact with the world around them which is 25 years further along. Okay, they do put some edge on the family members and they do get a little fun poked at them - like when Greg as "Johnny Bravo" gets up to perform at his school dance and says 'I wrote this song for the grooviest chick at Westdale High' and girls run screaming out of the gymnasium. And the drunk woman who lives next door has the hots for Mr. Brady - and Greg - and even Peter.

It's a really funny movie. I never thought I'd have liked it but when I finally watched it, I realized what an ingenious idea it was. There is a sequel to this movie which IMO is one of the reasons sequels are usually no good, just an attempt to cash in on a good original.

Finally, even as this movie makes fun of the Brady family, it does so with some heart. The humor is good-natured; the family members are still all likable and are treated with affection even as they are the source of the humor. If you always loved the Brady Bunch, this movie won't anger you by the way they were treated. Yes, the joke is on them, but they're laughing along with us - even if they don't get the joke in quite the same way we do. I like this movie!

Funny stuff - 26 September 2006
If ever there was a movie I never expected to recommend to someone, well, this is certainly it. I figured it was going to be another lame TV to big screen adaption. I never saw it in the theater or rented it. But I recognized Gary Cole's face, who at the time I'd most recently had seen in TV's "American Gothic" as Sheriff Lucas Buck. So I figured I'd check it out fro a few minutes just for his performance. The tongue-in-cheek and double-entendre writing and acting were so on the mark!! I was constantly giggling and laughing. I was never a Brady Bunch fan, so maybe that made the movie funnier to me, but I don't think so. It was just plainly a hoot. It's right up there with the first entries in the "Airplane!" and "Naked Gun" series. Comedy you had to pay attention to so you wouldn't miss the next joke in this clever spoof. If you rated it low, watch it again without bias. Tell me lines like

"Doug, do you have protection?"
"Oh yes ma'am, assorted colors and textures!"

aren't genuinely funny!!!

Extremely funny, very clever too - 11 September 2000
Out of all the movies that have been made from old TV shows, this is perhaps the best. The plot is as thin as one you see on the show and the dialogue is killer - when Marcia is insecure about her injured nose on a date, the guy reassures her, "its not your nose I'm after". Quite alot of the jokes are of the double-meaning style and most of them are very funny. Gary Cole takes the acting honors, as he is just as sincere are Robert Reed was. I was never the biggest fan of the show, but this movie made me wish I were. Also it was great seeing Davy Jones of the Monkees!

Mind Blowing! - 10 November 1998
For anyone old enough to have seen the original series, this movie truly blows the lid off of the whole TV show and pokes fun at the whole family and concept at every turn. They easily could have done a formula tv-ish movie and instead they make a complete parody that is screamingly funny. Not to mention that the fact that the cast are dead-ringers for the originals--in fact Jan is so _frighteningly_ like the original that it'll send shivers up your back. Four of the original cast also make cameos in the film (but you'll have to really look to find some of them), and the film blends the whole campy concept with the "retro" plastic nineties--a perfect joke on fashions of this decade. Very worth watching!

Great self-mocking fun - 2 August 2002
The 1970's family The Bradys find themselves in the 1990's but still with the same virtues we all know. However their next door neighbour is trying to get all the land around the area acquired to build a mall. He has been hiding their mail and causing them to build up $20K in unpaid taxes. The kids set about trying to raise the money to save the family home.

Reading the reviews shows me that people just don't get this film. I think this is a great example of what should happen when you remake a cheesy TV show from all our childhoods. The whole film is one big self-mocking joke about the values of the Bradys. The plot is not really important but it is a good summing up of the daft plots they had back then, however here it is just a device for the jokes.

The joke here is that we have a slightly modern spin on the family. We see them being all cheesy and full of morals even when surrounded by the dog eat dog world of LA in the nineties, but they are still the same. I find this funny and the moral lessons etc are all delivered tongue in cheek. The best bit of self mocking is the modern expansion of the characters – this thing is full of innuendoes and nice touches – like Jan hearing voices etc

The cast are all spot on. Long and Cole talk it straight but let their looks and glances tell a different story (Long is excellent), while the kids are all very very good. I'd never seen the show till after this so I didn't see any cameos or anything but really this isn't important.

This is great – you don't need to have seen the show. It's wonderfully self mocking and very very funny. Those who criticise it for not being serious or for being a joke just aren't getting it at all. Great fun!

* My favorite trivia about The Brady Bunch Movie:

* Christopher Daniel Barnes, who plays Greg Brady here, was among the cast of the NBC TV series Day by Day, as Ross Harper. In a memorable 1989 episode, Ross Harper falls asleep and dreams he is Chuck Brady, the "lost" Brady, in a very clever "Brady Bunch" reunion, with much of the original cast appearing.

* Mrs. Whitfield, the teacher whom safety monitor Bobby shakes down for stealing school supplies, was the name of a teacher from The Brady Bunch.

* A lot of scenes shown in trailers were cut at the last minute due to objection from producer Sherwood Schwartz. These included a grunge band scene in the garage with Greg and Eric, and a seduction scene between Mrs. Dittmeyer and Peter.

* In one school scene, the Patridge Family's bus passes in front of the camera.

* As he heads off to his business meeting, Carol Brady tells her husband, Mike, to "Go get 'em, Tiger", and then wonders to herself "Tiger, Tiger: what ever happened to that dog?" Tiger was the name of the Bradys' dog in the TV series. But, after the first two seasons, the dog was never seen again, even though his dog house was still out back. The movie is supposed to take place in the later seasons. So, that line is an inside joke to the show.

* Though Christine Taylor plays the older sister, she is actually younger than Jennifer Elise Cox who plays the middle sister.

* Gary Cole, playing Mike Brady, went on to play Vice President Bob Russell in The West Wing. Interestingly, the man pretending to be Carol Brady's first husband in A Very Brady Sequel, Tim Matheson, also went on to play the Vice President John Hoynes in "The West Wing".

* After 'Jan' runs away from home, she is seen walking a dark city street with provocative music playing in the background. This is an in-joke reference to the original Jan Brady, Eve Plumb. Plumb famously portrayed a runaway-turned-prostitute in the TV-movie "Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway".

* My favorite scene in The Brady Bunch Movie:

I remember nearly wetting my pants with laughter when Marcia gets Davy Jones to sing at the school dance and nobody but the chaperones has any idea who the fuck he is.   Davy Jones was an awfully good sport for agreeing to do that.  Oh and also R.I.P. Davy.

The Brady Bunch Movie at the IMDB

The Brady Bunch Movie at Wikipedia

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