The big-screen version of the hugely popular 1970s television sitcom takes an original angle: instead of simply re-creating the old series, the film spoofs it by presenting the merged family as blithely unaware that fashions and customs have changed in the '90s. Shelley Long and Gary Cole are hilarious as the ultra-square yet libidinous Mr. and Mrs. Brady, Christopher Daniel Barnes is an ideal Greg, and Christine Taylor seems practically cloned from the original Marcia. But director Betty Thomas (Private Parts) shifts the emphasis away from comparisons between old and new Bradys and concentrates on quasi-surreal parodies and set pieces featuring the Brady kids doing their spirited, singing thing for a disbelieving public. Smart, sharp, and happy to share its conspiratorial mood with an appreciative audience, The Brady Bunch Movie is a kick.
A Very Brady Sequel
This second ironic send-up of the old Sherwood Schwartz sitcom is even funnier than The Brady Bunch Movie. Shelley Long and Gary Cole return as the married heads of the merged family known as the Bradys, and Christopher Daniel Barnes and Christine Taylor reprise their roles as eldest stepsiblings Greg and Marcia. As with the first film, the clever premise finds the Brady clan caught in a kind of '70s time warp, while the rest of the world has moved well into the '90s. Greg is still looking for a "groovy girlfriend," Mr. Brady thinks the idea of a cable that sends 50 channels to one's TV set must be a joke, and Mrs. Brady spends hours at the beauty shop only to look exactly the same as she went in. There's a plot involving an imposter (Tim Matheson) who claims to be Carol's long-lost husband, but the real charge in this comedy comes from the way these pseudohip characters deal with sexual taboos (is there any real reason that Greg and Marcia shouldn't get it on?) and the incredulous reactions of other people. --Tom Keogh