by Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The 70’s comedy, The Brady Bunch has always represented the ideal family, but in a modern world, to see two families embrace is never easy. That’s what Sherry (Christine Lahti), the new wife to Ed (James Brolin) wanted. Despite her best intentions, including a well placed image of the extended family in the home showing them as a happy bunch, the weekend jaunt is not about to go according to plan. Jeff (Jason Ritter) and Marla (Emmanuelle Chriqui) get an invitation by their father, Ed (James Brolin) to meet her at their cottage in rural Ontario, but little did they know her side of the family is going to be there too.
Sherry has a past she’s not proud of and she’s not the only individual with secrets. As this film reveals, she always does what’s best for her kids. Everyone in the newly formed family is odd. They are all grown up but they still have a few problems to deal with. Keith (Steven McCarthy) is a failed musician, Samir (Vinay Virmani) is a full-time stoner and David (Benjamin Arthur) is a Canadian redneck. This outing is kind of like Cheaper by the Dozen 2 where going back to nature to reconnect is required to get back to basics. In this film’s case, it’s to discover they do not care for each other. Try as they might in family bonding games, the situations they end up in make for some great chuckles. Viewers can learn from their mistakes.
The laughs get better, especially from Arthur. His character stands out more than the uptight New Yorkers (Jeff and Marla) who have daddy issues. Ed was never around for them because he knew how to run a business better than keeping a family afloat. In a query to Arthur at the 2016 Victoria Film Festival, he said he developed his chops when he guested in The Kids in the Hall and worked with Mark McKinney. The ensemble cast works well to highlight each character’s faults and the movie makes for great light entertainment with a message. In the Q&A after the film, director Andrew Currie (Fido) revealed how he got the camaraderie going prior to filming — they spent time together at a resort for a couple of weeks so they can truly get to know each other. Life can imitate art, and in what shows is in how Jeff gets the family together when a crisis emerges.
The story has always been about him. Now hopefully he can learn from his mistakes and emerge a better man. A sequel is not really needed for this film, but as with any tale to spotlight generations needing to mend fences, the themes are universal. Common blood does not make a family, but knowing how to support each other is.
3½ Stars out of 5