Sometimes it's nice to watch a movie with a happy songs, happy people, and happy endings. Reviewing this for DVD Snapshot was a pleasure, and I can't help but imagine this catching on with any kid who watches Grease or High School Musical.
Brand New Day
Oscar-Winner Geoffrey Rush “is awesome” (Ain't It Cool News) as a hilariously devout minister chasing a runaway seminary student named Willie across the land down under. As Willie tries to make it back to the girl of his dreams, he embarks on a glorious, uproarious road trip filled with music, magic, and foot-stomping fun. Based on a beloved Australian musical, Brand New Day is “one of the most delightful, heartfelt and crowd-pleasing musical comedies in years” (NYC Movie Guru).
Under it's original title Bran Nue Dae, this was one of the most successful Australian films ever, and it's easy to see why. Brand New Day is a light, colorful and crowd-pleasing musical that somehow brings the lives of 1969 Aboriginal, rural, and hippie Australians (all of whom I admittedly know nothing about) right into your living room.
“Boy Meets Girl” is the oldest story in the world, and it's only the details that differentiate the telling. In this case, it starts in fragments. Willie loves Rosie, but he's in seminary while she's falling from the choir to the honky-tonk (...and there is no way good girls sang about condoms in 1969). Willie runs away to find his drunkard Uncle Tadpole, meet some Aussie hippies and return to his Rosie, with glowering Father Benedictus chasing him like a cartoon villain.
This story skips like a stone across a pond, from point to point and song to song like many musicals do. The songs and visuals dominate here, which is the point. If a musical can't play with style and good humor, there's no reason to make movies at all. Geoffrey Rush gleefully anchors the cast of mostly newcomers. These kids are charming and clean cut, but only the more established actors sparkle.
The only other Australian musical I've ever seen is The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and this is just as colorful and nearly as campy. The songs are playful, sometimes even racy, and never stop the story, though even at 85 minutes it threatens to drag in places. Also, the dancing is always frenetically edited and tightly framed. It's never allowed to breathe. However, as someone who usually avoids musicals, I found myself tapping my foot, humming along, and thoroughly charmed by the time Brand New Day was over.
Audio & Video:
The video is crisp and gorgeous, and might lead you to believe Australia is all electric, candy colors. The red Australian clay and blue skies here skirt being blinding. With a Widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, Brand New Day must have been overwhelming on the big screen. Meanwhile, the audio is a crisp English 5.1 dts-HD. The music and singing are well-served, even if you only listen through 2 speakers.
For a Blu-Ray, a lack of special features is always a disgrace. The only extras included here are subtitles in English and Spanish and some Trailers. A shame, as they might make this package more appealing and accessible.
Perhaps not for the little ones, but teens, families and music-lovers should delight in Brand New Day. It's colorful and playful, and even won over this reviewer, who usually has no use for Musicals. Is it great, no? Is it painless, light fun? Absolutely.