John Lyttle on Film

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The Independent Culture
How dull, dour and dead British film criticism is. Particularly on comedy. There it is pursing its thick, liver-like lips and sucking up to Woody Allen and Jim Carrey, because it wants to feel safely highbrow and populist but comes over all Helen Keller about what is self-evidently the funniest movie ever made.

I refer, of course, to The Brady Bunch Movie (right), that celluloid masterpiece based on the Seventies TV classic that ran for 117 - count 'em - episodes and forever changed (for the better) all those lucky enough to see it. Most British critics obviously didn't indulge, so don't get the gag when extraordinarily vain and extraordinarily heterosexual Marcia Brady is the subject of a lesbian crush. They don't think it's funny when Mike Brady delivers one of his long and winding homilies. They don't find Jan's parody interior duologues (they progress to the point of demonic possession) a hoot, though they're the funniest thing since Michael Portillo's hairdresser played that terrible trick. No one cracks a smile when goofy Greg decides he has to be, like, a cool rock star, in satin and sequins no less.

So they certainly don't get the best joke - how the movie invites you to peg not only the differences between the big-screen version and the small-screen blueprint and the space between the Brady's time-tunnel sweetness and today's cynicism, but, most importantly, the growing gap between your younger, naive self and the nostalgic older saddie you are now. The critics would doubtless argue that that is too simple a thing for their sophisicated tastes, but actually, everyone but them knows it's the other way around...

three to see

Before Sunrise: The brightest romance on the block.

Death and the Maiden: Polanski's stilted adaptation of Dorfman's chamber piece.

Kiss of Death: Nicolas Cage makes the whole thing worthwhile. RG