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It's funny how the biggest ratings successes aren't always the most
shows; in England, for instance, "The Army Game" was a big, big hit
"Fawlty Towers" was a bit of a flop when it first aired, but only one of
them is still remembered widely today. (Guess which.) Similarly, during
five-year run in America "The Brady Bunch" wasn't really a Nielsen
the way something like "Family Affair" was, but one of them spawned one
animated spinoff, a variety show, two dramatic TV shows, record albums,
big-screen movies (both of them among the better examples of TV-to-cinema
transfers), tours, and now three TV movies. It may leave UK audiences
bemused, but I suppose US audiences would wonder why snooker is so
on British TV.
Which brings us to "Growing Up Brady," based on Barry "Greg" Williams and Chris Kreski's book about the former's experiences on the show. I suspect the book would be more interesting to read than this movie is to watch - a bit too much emphasis is put on whether or not he and Maureen "Marcia" McCormack did the deed of darkness for my liking, although the upside (other than a hilarious round of fluffed takes for a bedroom scene - not that kind) is that we do get to see a pre-"8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter" Kaley Cuoco in fetching skimpy swimwear. (Well, that's an upside for lesbians and straight men, anyway.)
The movie's more interesting when it focuses on nearly every other aspect of the show not involving Barry's love life - Daniel Hugh Kelly and Michael Tucker come off well as the late Robert Reed and the still-with-us-at-the-time-of-writing Sherwood Schwartz, and the sight of Reed expressing his distaste at the stuff he has to do in the name of comedy (Reed's previous series had been "The Defenders," so going from that to this must be like going from performing Faulkner to doing Jackie Collins) gives the movie some real edge, a reminder of how harder it is to do this stuff than it looks. But as well as providing a bit of behind-the-scenes-after-the-fact information, it also furnishes some actual entertainment, not least with the kids being encouraged to sing and dance on the show and on tour (shoot me, but I liked "Time To Change").
Some of the casting is a problem - the woman who's supposed to be Ann B. Davis doesn't come close - and as I said I suspect the book will be better, but can you imagine any comedies today having the potential to lead to a TV movie like this? And the feeling of axe-grinding is mercifully absent, making "Growing Up Brady" worth a look for fans of the series, and of US TV shows in general... plus, this is arguably better written than the show that spawned it in the first place.
(P.S.: Why IS snooker so popular on British TV?)
This was a well-done special. I'm always a sucker for these kind of shows....I love to see the process behind what makes something work. Naturally these guys weren't creating Shakespeare at the Paramount Studios--much to the consternation of Robert Reed--but the Brady Bunch series they put out was sweet and lighthearted, and made us forget our problems for a half-hour or so. One thing I didn't understand....why did the real Barry meet the real Maureen McCormick at the Paramount Studios at the end, only to deny that she was who she was? Did Maureen insist that she get no credit for appearing on this show? But otherwise, a very good way to remember a very happy series.
Knowing facts about what 'actually' happened behind the scenes, is the
most interesting- especially when it comes to the Brady Bunch, where
all characters shine on TV, earning them the 'happiest family' tagline.
After watching this, one could easily say.. 'well they were not so happy after all'. Though this movie was through Barry Williams' perspective, it gave all the characters, an equal part. I guess all questions can finally be answered in this movie, the question on everyone's mind seem to be did Barry Williams have a fling with Maureen MaCormack? Well the answer to that is all explained in the movie. Another thing which is quite obvious is that no series is complete with a black sheep- and in this movie, we find out who the black sheep of the series was, and all the other flings which happened during
All in all it was a great movie, and a great recommendation to any fan of the TV series.
Anyone old enough to remember the series has heard the stories. We know about "the date" and we know of Robert Reed's "secret" and of Barry's first love. To be effective, Growing Up Brady had to stick to what we know but not make it a weak, years-later rerun. And the creators succeeded. The first half-hour was terrific -- good lines, quick cuts, the use of Brady Bunch-like look and sound, a lot of innocent comedy and good fun but packed with nostalgia. The cut-ups by the boys on the sound stage, the one-on-ones between cast members. I concur with those who praise Michael Tucker and Daniel Hugh Kelly: A-1 acting jobs and in very tough roles. The kids were more wooden and Florence Henderson's role seemed to be for photographic but not plot purposes; we got no feel for her as a person. This movie could have been a real bomb job, either a weak bio or a rip of the show or the personalties; somehow, both were avoided. The creative forces here did their homework and turned out a winner, though I would add that the Greg-Marcia romance got a bit old.
I have to admit that I am a sucker for "The Brady Bunch", although I
was not a child of the 70's. I was born in 1982, and I became a fan the
same way other people my age did: I caught up with the show on
syndication. When I was 12 or 13, I would spend summers waiting in
anticipation for 4:00 to roll around, which was when the show would
come on TBS. I knew the show was entirely unrealistic and often times
cheesy as heck. I still loved watching it, though. It remains a guilty
That said, fans of the Brady Bunch like me will love this movie for its familiarity. I can't say the same for people who aren't fans, and who don't know Marsha from Jan, or who wonder why anyone would name a dog Tiger. It's the same as when Siskel & Ebert gave "The Brady Bunch Movie" two thumbs down: it was clear they didn't get the inside jokes of the movie.
"Growing Up Brady" is a behind the scenes expose for lack of a better word. It was a made-for-TV movie based on the book of the same name written by Barry Williams, who stars as himself (older, not younger) and narrates part of the film. As far as made-for-TV movies go, this one is pretty good. It told a great story, and did in fact make me want to know more.
I have not read the book yet, but something gives me the feeling that the book wasn't just about Williams' relationship with Maureen McCormack, who played Marsha on the show. From the beginning of the film, it is implied that Williams gets asked more about whether or not he had sex with McCormack than any other question. It's unfortunate, too, because if I ever met the guy in real life, I would have a lot of other questions for him about the show.
Interestingly enough, the movie seemed to try to make the viewers care about the relationship between Williams and McCormick. Fortunately, that wasn't the only thing the movie covered. I loved the scene where the Brady brothers (or actors playing them) went around the Paramount set playing. It was especially cool when they stole props from the "Star Trek" set (even though the original series was actually canceled by the time "The Brady Bunch" made its debut, but no matter). It really was a relief for me to see that these kids were just as mischievous in real life as I was, and not as picture perfect as the sitcom made you believe.
I also liked how the movie examined the Brady kids' relationship with Sherwood Schwartz, whose name appeared prominently in the credits but who many other Brady Bunch fans don't know too much about. I liked how the show's creator, played very well by Michael Tucker, served as more of a grandfather figure to the kids. I also liked the dichotomy of how Schwartz tried to be reasonable when cast members, particularly Robert "Mike Brady" Reed (played in this movie by Daniel Hugh Kelly) were difficult to work with. If the producers of this movie ditched the Greg-Marsha complex altogether, they still would have had a good movie with Schwartz alone trying to put the show together.
Being a made-for-TV movie, this film was not without its faults. For instance, the kid who played the young Barry Williams (Adam Brody) acted well, but it's almost as if he stayed 13 from season 1 to season 5. Anyone who has seen part of each season knows that all the Brady kids grew up considerably over the five seasons, and virtually every teenager looks more noticeably different at 13 than he or she does at 18. Having different actors come in would have increased the realism, but I can understand if they didn't have the budget to do it.
I also didn't understand the subplot where the young Barry Williams had a crush on Florence Henderson (Rebeccah Bush). I mean, it's understandable when he's 13, but five years later? Really? I read somewhere in a trivia book that Williams did actually go out to dinner with Henderson, which I always assumed was just a friendly gesture. The movie didn't mention the fact that when Henderson was on "The Brady Bunch", she had been married since 1956 (in a marriage that would last until 1985) and had already had four children of her own. The real life Williams had to have known that.
I was also a bit let down by the girl who played Maureen McCormick (Kaley Cuoco). Maybe this is the Brady Bunch fan speaking, but although Cuoco is pretty, she had nothing on the real McCormack in terms of looks. Perhaps I've been spoiled by "The Brady Bunch Movie", where Christine Taylor looked (and still looks) identical to McCormick. Cuoco also wasn't very convincing as an actress, either. During crucial scenes, particularly when young Williams comes very close to sleeping with her, she just sounded bored and not very into her scene. A better McCormick could have been cast, and not just a Marsha lookalike.
Last but not least, the movie's ending seemed too abrupt. I would have liked to have seen more about how Williams coped with having the show being canceled, what kind of contact he has with McCormick today, and what he thinks of the show right now. Was it good for his career, or bad? I mean, this information is probably covered in his book, but it would have been great to see that on film. I felt a bit let down that they left so much out, although it was great to see the real Sherwood Schwartz make a cameo in the end. It was almost as if the filmmakers forgot about the juicy gossip, and made a touching tribute in spite of themselves. I'd like to think so.
Hats off to Barry Williams, for displaying humor and inside details on TV's
most (in)famous family, in the book and now the TV flick. Mind you, quite a
few details have been changed in the movie (in the book, Robert Reed took
the kids on a cruise, not New York; likewise Barry and Maureen's first kiss
was in Hawaii, not in a car at a drive-in), but for budget considerations, I
can see why those details would be changed. None of the people portrayed
here are fleshed out very well, personality wise. I liked some of the
casting, though: The real-life Bobby's son plays his father here, and Carly
Schroeder of Port Charles plays Susan Olsen. And the girl who plays Maureen
looks uncannily like the real Maureen.
Speaking of Maureen, like a previous user commented here, I wonder what HER opinion on this film was. Most recently she was seen on NBC's Passions. And her 1995 country CD was great!
My favorite scene was the one where the kids are in the multi-colored fringed jumpsuits singing "Time To Change". I liked this movie but of course it's nowhere near as enjoyable as the actual Brady series and movies.
This was a great movie. I really enjoyed this one. I would like to see it again. I hope it goes on sale. It was nice to know about the people we grew up loving. Barry Williams did a great job describing the loves and hates of the people he grew up with.
This Movie was awesome. I loved it so much I ordered the book and cd offered by NBC. I hope they replay this movie. I was able to get closer to my niece because she was able to understand why her mom and I loved the brady bunch. She liked the show before, but she loves it now. Just like her mother and I do.
At best, "Growing Up Brady" is not a disappointment. But it doesn't hit the bull's-eye, because it feels shallow. Sure, this is based on a true story, but perhaps this might have played better had it been made, say, several years after the show ended, and with more experienced actors. The Robert Reed story is only slightly more satisfying, and I would have preferred to see more of it. I didn't find the Barry Williams/Maureen McCormick story very interesting, because there apparently isn't any chemistry between the actors portraying them. Cameos from more Brady actors would have helped too, especially from Maureen McCormack, who's character of course, is also the star of the movie. It's an interesting film, but not particularly satisfying.
Growing Up Brady was a fun Bio-movie about the Brady Bunch. It lifts the mystique from the lives of the cast. Especially about Robert Reed. I especially loved the scenes where Barry and Maureen were trying to shoot a brother and sister scene, and their hormones just took over. No doubt those out-takes will never appear on a TV Blunders program. My only disappointment was the choice for Davy Jones of the Monkees. This actor was poor choice. They didn't work very hard in finding a suitable person for the part. And That wig on him was horrible. Chances are when a TV movie is done about the Monkees, Maureen Mcormick will be played by an equally sad actor. My other disappointment is that this movie is not available for sale.
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