Written by: Julia Siegel
New Jersey has some weird folklore, but no story may be crazier than the events that occurred from Orson Welles’ radio broadcast of War of the Worlds on October 30, 1938. The radio industry was forever impacted by the chaos that ensued when Welles announced that Martians were invading New Jersey. Brave New Jersey gives a comedic take on the true events that occurred in a small New Jersey town on that night and discusses the consequences of learning it was all a hoax.
If you haven’t heard this story, then you may be asking yourself what went wrong that made people freak out. Well, it was announced at the beginning of the program that it was a reading, not actual events. This was also in 1938, so the only way for people to get immediate news was from the radio. World War II had just begun, the Great Depression was ending, and America’s future was uncertain. So, imagine if you heard an alien invasion was happening when you turned on the radio in such tumultuous times. How would you react?
Brave New Jersey recounts how chaos ensues when “fake news” is reported. In this case, people didn’t realize what they were listening to, which seems quite funny today. Director/writer Jody Lambert’s script is incredibly funny, as the situation is full of natural comedy. The ensemble cast is led by Tony Hale, Anna Camp, and Dan Bakkedahl. Hale and Bakkedahl brought the most comedy, but the whole cast did a good job of bringing the story to life. Camp could have had a larger role, but she packs in the most craziness in her short screen time.
The small town displayed in the film feels out of place today, as New Jersey is no longer that rural. The town seemed too southern, which was the only problem I had with the film. However, the cinematography was beautiful, and the film was well directed for its setting. Brave New Jersey is an enjoyable hour-and-a-half that every New Jerseyan should relate to. After all, our crazy state has to live up to its legacy!