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The Brady Bunch Movie

Filmmakers tackling big screen versions of old TV shows, comics etc face a unique challenge; how to frame the world you're presenting. Do you set the story and characters in their native habitat and era, update them to the modern world with its unique geopolitical and social idiosyncracies, or shell them in a cocoon and drop them rudely into a modern world that's completely alien to them.

The Brady Bunch Movie takes the latter path, and one sequence in the movie encapsulates the ethos perfectly. The camera pans across the Bradys' backyard where the birds are singing, the grass in neatly mowed, Cindy is playing with her skipping rope and Tiger is running happily. It crosses into the yard of the Dittmeyers, where the teenaged son is dressed like a slob, the lawn in unkempt, car parts are strewn everywhere and we can hear heavy metal music blaring from the house.

The Brady family, even though still the 70s squares they always were, now live in the 90s, and they have a few things to teach the modern world about manners, keeping a promise if you're a Brady, respect for your Mom and Dad and architecture.

It could have been a convoluted, unfunny wreckage, but something was done right, and it's actually really funny because it successfully plumbs the depths of comedy inherent in the situation of the Bradys inhabiting the 1990s.

The plot doesn't even stand out in memory, what does is the homages to classic Brady Bunch episodes and the fun poked at the kitschiness of the whole institution (especially Jan's repeated jealous chanting of 'Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!).

TV's Gary Cole and 80's production-line comedy darling Shelley Long play Mike and Carol perfectly, and most of the kids are uncannily like the ones we all know, especially Christine Taylor (wife of Ben Stiller and therefore a dead cert for a cameo in the similar remake of Starsky and Hutch).

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