Brand New Jersey: An Alien invasion movie where the aliens never show up (Review)

Director: Jody Lambert
Written By: Jody Lambert & Matt Dowling
Cast: Anna Camp, Tony Hale, Heather Burns, Matt Oberg, Sam Jaeger

The famous 1938 Orsen Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast was a story about a Martian invasion that caused an uproar as many listeners had believes it to be true. Brave New Jersey is a comedy about a small town on the night of the War of the Worlds radio broadcast, as the citizens of one New Jersey town are faced with what they believe is their last night on Earth. This is an alien invasion movie where the aliens never show up.

Jody Lambert and Mike Dowling concoct the perfect amount of drama and comedy in this period-piece. Many of the reactions of the townsfolk seem genuine, which is important when dealing with these circumstances. Tony Hale, who plays Mayor Clark Hill, is one of the main characters of the film as his character also provides a better backstory for many supporting characters and the town itself.  Hale’s performance is top-notch as his character is a fun, quirky and selfless person. Peg Pricket (Heather Burns) plays the lonely housewife who longs for attention or even a conversation from her husband. Anna Camp plays the frustratingly yet entertaining Peg Prickett, who realizes there is so much more available to her after being confined to her mundane life for so long. Matt Oberg, plays Chardy Edwards, who is content with sticking with the current status quo, despite hearing news of a possible alien invasion. Reverent Ray Rogers, played by the hilarious Dan Bakkedahl, faith is tested now thanks to the invasion and has difficulty preaching to the people as his own beliefs are challenged.

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This story brings out the true intentions of each of the characters and the extremes they are willing to go through to get what they want, that is until the moment the townspeople discover that the invasion was actually a hoax and the whole thing feels like one bad hangover. Even after the aftermath, going into the next day, many of the characters come out of the experience enlightened, aware, ashamed or even conflicted as they must decide to make a decision to continue to pursue their real intentions or convert back to their ways prior to the broadcast. This film often finds yourself asking, “What would I do if I were in this situation?”.

Although, this is an ensemble cast, the film provides a great balance of each story-line provided. At the same time, my only gripe is not spending enough time with some of these characters as I had hope, this would require a longer film of course.

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Brave New Jersey is a perfect blend of fact and fiction. This story branches out into the lives of many different characters without losing sight of the overall message of the film and what it’s like for one small town to confront their fears and doubt. The overall concept and delivery of the film is genius.

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Brave New Jersey premiered at Austin Film Festival over the weekend and is currently making it’s rounds among the festival circuit. BNJ is not yet rated.

Don’t forget to check out our interview with the director and cast members.

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