Movie Review - Brave New Jersey
The fictional town of Lullaby, New Jersey sputtered along in its rural existence. Home of the Rotolactor, a mass milking machine that could revolutionize the farming industry, the small farming community of 506 is the type of town where a cat getting stuck in the tree would make front page headlines, if the town were big enough to have its own newspaper. So, on the night of October 30, 1938 a news report was broadcasted across the radio waves of CBS. A report of hostile aliens, presumably from Mars landed on Earth and laid waste to whomever made first contact. The horrors of the alien invasion, taking place in nearby Grover's Mill, New Jersey with incredible detail, played out over the radio, shattering the illusion of Lullaby's small town charm.
After the initial panic subsides, the film becomes a race to the finish line, as we all know what the cast will soon discover:
--it's just a prank bro.
Brave New Jersey lures you in with folksy charm but gets crushed under the weight of a lackluster script. Each character has their specific charms/quirks/faults, that are expectantly resolved before the film's conclusion. The paint-by-numbers script from Director Jody Lambert and Michael Dowling has a Pleasantville vibe through the first half of the film before going off the rails in the third act. This iteration of America's first "fake news" event and the subsequent panic is labeled and marketed as a comedy. However, Brave New Jersey has the comedic appeal of watching a bird escape a room with open glass doors (for 90 minutes). There'll be a few uncomfortable chuckles before the audience (who's in on the joke) agrees that this is just sad.
The 1975 ABC made for TV movie "The Night That Panicked America" is the definitive film on this subject, but that doesn't mean stories like Brave New Jersey shouldn't be told. But, if the real panic behind the greatest farce in American media were to be retold, Brave New Jersey doesn't really add anything new to the conversation. Unfortunately, even when faced with the perception of impending doom, the townsfolk of Lullaby truly lived up to its name, putting me to sleep.
Unrated @ 91 mins
Note: Also available On Demand August 4