Brave New Jersey: An Absurd War of the Worlds Comedy

Anna Camp as Peg Prickett. Brave New Jersey arrives in theaters and on demand August 4. Photo credit: Gravitas Ventures.

Brave New Jersey is an absurd comedy about the reaction to the War of the Worlds radio broadcast.

Directed by Jody Lambert from a script written by Michael Dowling & Lambert, the comedy stars Tony Hale, Heather Burns, Anna Camp, Dan Bakkedahl, Sam Jaeger, Grace Kaufman, Mel Rodriguez, Matt Oberg, Erika Alexander, Leonard Earl Howze, Evan Jonigkeit, Harp Sandman, Noah Lomax, and Raymond J. Barry.

Lambert was the co-writer of People Like Us and this film couldn’t be more different.  Lambert tackles the War of the Worlds story in a way that has never been done before and certainly not as a feature film.

“To us, the most interesting version of the story was about the people who heard the broadcast, believed it, and thought they had one night to live before Martians killed them all,” Lambert says.

The filmmakers turn their focus on the mayor, a housewife, a schoolteacher, and a reverend who Dan Bakkedahl so cleverly plays.  Nobody else could bring to the role what Bakkedahl brings and I’m not saying that because I’ve met him a few times.  As Clark, Tony Hale anchors this film. He’s the lonely mayor of the town Think of him as Tom Hanks meets Charlie Chaplin.  Heather Burns brings a mix of comedy and drama to her role as Lorraine.  What Pitch Perfect‘s Anna Camp does is take the innocent Peg and turns her into a kicking badass!  Peg isn’t afraid of the Martians and is ready to lead everyone into battle.

“We wanted Brave New Jersey to be a funny and touching end-of-the-world, alien invasion movie where the world doesn’t end because the aliens never show up,” Lambert says.  “We wanted it to feel like a fable, with a classic, period-movie feel filtered through a very contemporary aesthetic.  That style would apply to every aspect of the movie: cinematography, costumes, production design, music.  And especially casting.”

Set in a small fictional New Jersey town of Lullaby on the night of Orson Welles’ 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast, the citizens of this town really believe that the world is going to end.  Who could blame them?  Unless they were familiar with the book that the broadcast was based on, they would have likely believed aliens were going to come to invade Earth.  Sure enough, the aliens never come because the broadcast was complete fiction.

The film premiered during the 2016 Austin Film Festival and Gravitas Ventures will release the film in select theaters on August 4, 2017.  In Chicago, you can catch it at Facets Cinematheque.


Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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