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The Brady Bunch Movie plays on nostalgia

The Brady Bunch Movie

Directed by Betty Thomas.

Written by Laurice Blehwany, Rick Copp, Bonnie Turner, and Terry Turner; based on the television characters created by Sherwood Schwartz.

Starring Shelley Long, Gary Cole, Michael McKean, and Henriette Mantel.

Sony Cheri.

By Rob Wagner

On the surface, this movie seems as loathable as A Very Brady Christmas, the TV-movie that brought back all of the old actors (except the one who played Cindy) and attempted to adapt them for the '90s. The Brady Bunch Movie, however, avoids this mistake by using an entirely new cast. Set in modern times, the Brady family, either timeless or anachronistically transported, remain the same lovable group, complete with characteristically garish wardrobes. The care for details from the original series, from Katie Carry-All (Cindy's doll), to Tiger the dog, to Peter's voice changing, was impressive and nostalgic.

Christopher Knight, Barry Williams, Ann B. Davis, and Florence Henderson, all from the original series, make well-placed cameos in the film. As do Monkees Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Davy Jones.

Shelley Long is surprisingly convincing as Carol Brady, with her expressive eyes and inane worries beginning with "Oh, Mike." Gary Cole emulates Robert Reed well as Michael Brady, often giving confusing lectures the children accept as gospel.

The supporting cast was not exactly star-studded, but almost all were recognizable. Michael McKean played a neighbor scheming with other neighbors to turn the block into a residential mini-mall. Jean Smart plays his alcoholic, seductive wife, who is after the Brady men. RuPaul plays Jan's high school counselor, who advises her to distinguish herself from her siblings, hence the huge wig. David Graf, perhaps better known as Tackleberry from the Police Academy movies, plays Sam the Butcher, Alice's long-time love.

The plot is nostalgically inane: the family will lose their house if they do not pay the $20,000 they owe in back taxes. Will they succeed in raising the money? Who cares? That isn't the real point.

The real point of this film is to contrast the Bradys to the '90s and play on the nostalgia of those of us who watched, and sometimes even liked, the original series. Situations such as Mike's quest to sell his antiquated architectural designs, Marcia's confusing relationship with her lesbian best friend, the ubiquitous big brown station wagon, or the family singing parade around a Sears store, will leave the audience rolling in the aisles.

The film crumbles under any critical analysis, but when considered in the realm of Beverly Hillbillies and Coneheads, the film is a success.