Coming to theaters and On Demand this Friday from writer/director Jody Lambert and Gravitas Ventures is a town you will come to know as “Brave New Jersey.”
It is 1938 small town New Jersey, USA and everyone is getting ready for a fun town gathering for Halloween. Lorraine Davison (Heather Burns) is helping her husband Paul (Sam Jaeger) by being the perfect homemaker. Happiness doesn’t seem to be part of the formula of their marriage but Lorraine does what she can to make family life easy.
Daughter Ann (Grace Kaufman) just wants to be free of babysitting her Polish cousin Ziggy (Harp Sandman). The fact that he doesn’t speak English gives her leeway to complain but Mom isn’t having it.
Teaching school is Peg (Anna Camp) who is being courted by Chardy Edwards (Matt Oberg) who believes she has her place and it’s by his side. Clark Hill (Tony Hale) has lived in this small town and believes it is the perfect place to be, even if he has a secret of the heart he is keeping.
Reverend Rogers (Dan Bakkedahl) is all about the town and keeping his flock coming every Sunday. His sermons are straight to the point and reach to the heart of his parishioners that include Helen (Erika Alexander) and Stan (Leonard Howze).
That was the intent until the towners turns on their radios and discover that the Martians are invading the world! Running to the church for a meeting, Sheriff Dandy (Mel Rodriguez) doesn’t seem to have any answers either. The one person who wants to immediately plan to defend their town is Captain Collins (Raymond Barry).
In the middle of the preparations, town’s people begin to reevaluate their lives and what is important while waiting for the Martians to arrive. That means being honest about how they feel and, as Captain Collins put it ‘what would you do if you had only one more day to live?’
Martians are the least of their worries!
Burns as Lorraine is the stereotypical woman of the era in that it doesn’t matter what she wants because her job is to keep her husband and family well taken care of. As the invasion comes closer and closer, Lorraine realizes there is more to her life than cooking and cleaning. Hale as Hill is such a lovely character and I rooted for him every step of the way. His inability to speak his heart is running out of time if the Martians have a say in it.
Camp as Peg is the sweet schoolteacher who manages to hide her true feelings under her cute smile. As each moment brings the town closer to what they think is their doom, Camp gives Peg a pair of lady-balls and she let’s loose going against the era grain.
Jaeger as Paul is just everything women now would absolutely cringe about yet he does it with a Don Draper (“Mad Men”) glittering smile. Rogers as Bakkedahl is a pastor who apparently needs said aliens to get mouthy with God! The scene in the church is actually quite funny. Alexander as Helen calls on the Pastor to explain why this is all happening plus Howze as husband Stan has completely lost it!
Barry as Collins doesn’t care if there are Martians or not, this is the chance of a lifetime to put on his uniform and command the troops. Rodriguez as the Sheriff doesn’t seem to know much about anything except following the townsfolk.
Kaufman as Ann is a young girl who doesn’t believe everything she hears. Deciding to roam the town with her cousin and watch how the adults deal with their fear. I love how she has little fear (except maybe the Captain for a second) and takes a moment to realize that perhaps what was heard on the radio might be something else.
Other cast include Adina Galupa as Shannon, Sandra Lafferty as Farm Lady, Evan Jonigkeit as Sparky, Bill Coelius as Mac, Noah Lomax as Peter, Patrick Miller as Mr. Pepper and Gabriel Landis as Jimmy.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Brave New Jersey” four tubs of popcorn out of five. First of all I love that the film looks exactly like the era from the clothing, behaviors and the town. That’s what drew me into the story immediately plus the fact that the cast captures it all.
The comedy is mixed with an awakening for its female characters not only in what was expected of them in marriage and relationships but it didn’t take some long to grab a gun! I was laughing, then ‘awwwww’ing’ which was followed by more laughing and I don’t mind that one little bit.
I’m keeping a little mum about the story because this film is just so dang cute that going any deeper into it isn’t cool. Just see the film and enjoy every minute of it!
The storyline is pretty cool with how I would have thought people reacted to the 1938 Orson Welles’s radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds.” Performed Halloween night on The Mercury Theater on the Air, Welles directed and narrated the story that supposedly caused mass panic. By the way, that event still remains high on my list of the most brilliant things ever done.
In the end – it is an alien comedy with no aliens!