So good they're bad, the Bradys are back, in all their polyester and eerie smiles, and the result is so bad it's good.
"A Very Brady Sequel" continues in the vein of "The Brady Bunch Movie," taking the '70s sitcom family and keeping them happily in a '70s mode while the rest of the world is drinking iced mochas, wearing Rachel haircuts and generally being greedy dirt-bags.
The greedy dirt-bag this time around is Tim Matheson, who shows up at the Bradys' door claiming to be Mrs. Brady's (Shelley Long) long-lost first husband. He has a more sinister purpose, however: to rob their foyer of its ornamental horse statue, which is worth $20 million.
The '70s Bradys are fish out of water in the '90s, and mean Matheson is an amusing fish out of water at the naive Bradys'. He's a bad influence on the gullible kids; Peter (Paul Sutera) enthusiastically accepts the idea that to get ahead, one has to lie, steal, cheat and kill. After all, how could a grown-up give bad advice?
Jan (Jennifer Elise Cox), meanwhile, whose plaintive sibling-rivalry-inspired "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!" was the funniest thing about the first movie, is out to prove herself again, this time with an invented boyfriend. When she drags a giant dummy into a coffee bar to impress her siblings, the only people who notice think she's doing performance art.
Elder step-siblings Greg and Marcia (Christopher Daniel Barnes and Christine Taylor) have another problem -- they've realized that they aren't related by blood, and suddenly this happenin' guy and far-out groovy chick have the hots for each other.
Egad! How anti-Brady!
Just as comical are Shelley Long's daffy optimism and dad Gary Cole's unflappable "wisdom." (To think Cole played the sexy, evil sheriff on "American Gothic" the mind boggles.) The cameos are a hoot: David Spade as a punk hairdresser, for instance, and Richard Belzer as a cop, complete with bad attitude and shaky camera a la "Homicide."
The puns and double entendres are turned way up, and director Arlene Sanford (whose credits include HBO's "Dream On") further heightens the campiness with non-sequitur musical production numbers.
In short, it's odd. It's bad. And that's why it's funny.
'A Very Brady Sequel'
Starring: Shelley Long, Gary Cole, Tim Matheson
Directed by: Arlene Sanford
Released by: Paramount
Rated: PG-13 (sexual quips, step-sibling lust)
Sun score: **
Pub Date: 8/23/96