Friday August 23, 1996
Still frighteningly cheerful, still as out of place in '90s California as alien invaders, the "decade-impaired" Brady family makes its second big-screen appearance in "A Very Brady Sequel." Cute and light and wafer-thin, this film is pleasantly similar to its successful predecessor, "The Brady Bunch Movie."
Impervious to change, dressing, talking and thinking the way they did when they were the hot TV family of the 1970s, the Bradys' iconography is now as unvarying as the most rigid forms of traditional Japanese drama.
Returning from the first film are chipper and oblivious mother Carol (Shelley Long) and father Mike (Gary Cole), given as always to obtuse platitudes like "Kids are like little people, only younger."
The Bradys' fusion family of his three boys and her three girls also return unchanged. Marcia (Christine Taylor) is blithely self-centered and hair-obsessed; Jan (Jennifer Elise Cox) is gauche as ever; and Greg (Christopher Daniel Barnes) continues to think, all evidence to the contrary, that he's a California Casanova.
This Brady movie has been wisely treated as if it were a feature-length sitcom episode, with TV veterans hired both to direct (Arlene Sanford in her feature debut) and write (the teams of Harry Elfont & Deborah Kaplan and James Berg & Stan Zimmerman). Though the results will mainly entertain the Brady-addicted, the concept of one deluded family functioning as unknowing residents of an alternate universe is amusing.
"A Very Brady Sequel" does have a few new ideas, starting with its ersatz Indiana Jones opening involving an ancient stone statue, "the lost horse of the last Tang empire." One of these horses was auctioned off in Manhattan for 20 million. Its twin, it turns out, is sitting unloved and undiscovered in the Bradys' split-level living room.
But not for long. Knocking at the Brady door is Roy Martin (Tim Matheson), who says he is Carol Brady's long-lost and presumed dead first husband, back after a grueling bout of amnesia in a Siberian hospital. Carol goes into shock, but it's not her that the gentleman wants, it's that darn horse.
Roy's presence in the Brady house causes understandable chaos in this normally unflappable family's life. In a goofy way, it liberates Greg and Marcia from thinking of each other as brother and sister, and the mutual crush that takes place is the funniest part of a film that trades heavily on good-humored sexual innuendo.
"A Very Brady Sequel" is also not shy about trading on its TV origins. Pointed references to "Gilligan's Island" and "I Dream of Jeannie" dot the landscape, and there is even a wacky moment of veteran pitchman John Hillerman offering the Bradys some tasty macadamia nuts.
Despite cameos by RuPaul and Zsa Zsa Gabor, this second Brady film not surprisingly runs out of steam before the 90-minute mark. But at those daft moments when the entire family bursts into inappropriate song, ruefully shaking your head and singing along seems like the only sane option.
A Very Brady Sequel, 1996. PG-13, for sex-related humor and drug content. A Ladd Co./Sherwood Schwartz production, released by Paramount Pictures. Director Arlene Sanford. Producers Sherwood Schwartz, Lloyd J. Schwartz, Alan Ladd Jr. Screenplay Harry Elfont & Deborah Kaplan and James Berg & Stan Zimmerman, based on characters created by Sherwood Schwartz. Cinematographer Mac Ahlberg. Editor Anita Brandt-Burgoyne. Costumes Rosanna Norton. Music Guy Moon. Production design Cynthia Charette. Art director Troy Sizemore. Set decorator Bob Kensinger. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Shelley Long as Carol Brady. Gary Cole as Mike Brady. Christopher Daniel Barnes as Greg Brady. Christine Taylor as Marcia Brady. Paul Sutera as Peter Brady. Jennifer Elise Cox as Jan Brady. Jesse Lee as Bobby Brady. Olivia Hack as Cindy Brady. Henriette Mantel as Alice. Tim Matheson as Roy Martin.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times