REAL LIFE

title: REAL LIFE
year: 1979
cast: Albert Brooks, Charles Grodin, Francis Lee McCann, J.A. Preston, David Speilberg, James L. Brooks, Johnny Haymer, Matthew Tobin
writer/director: Albert Brooks
rating: **

The worst thing about this Albert Brooks film where Albert Brooks (supposedly) plays Albert Brooks is Albert Brooks, going completely overboard developing and directing a reality TV show. Brooks sets up camera and crew inside a middle class suburban house in Arizona, and things fall apart quickly, to the point where there's not much of a story arc. Charles Grodin and Frances Lee McCann are fun to watch as the uptight patriarchs, and both seem blandly realistic, as is intended. The concept here is smarter than the outcome: to show not only the reality show participants (years before the genre became commonplace) but also the REAL people who film that show and how both collide. Unfortunately they collide a bit too much, too soon, and when other elements are introduced - like a news station following up on a story by a disgruntled psychologist (J.A. Preston) who quit the film in progress - or Brooks having several nervous breakdowns and eventually committing arson... what could have been light and funny ends up completely irritating and ironically unREAListic, although there are a few funny moments. Brooks would really find his niche a few years later with LOST IN AMERICA.

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