Monday, April 25, 2011

643. Real Life (1979)

Running Time: 99 minutes
Directed By: Albert Brooks
Written By: Albert Brooks, Monica Mcgowan Johnson, Harry Shearer
Main Cast: Albert Brooks, Charles Grodin, Frances Lee McCain, J.A. Preston, Matthew Tobin


I randomly moved this movie to the top of my Netflix queue last week because I thought it looked interesting and have always been somewhat amused by Albert Brooks. After watching it this morning, I can tell you that it's inclusion in the "1001..." book is a big head scratcher.

The film is a satire of the PBS documentary "An American Family", which apparently aired in the 1970s and was an actual series that documented the life of a real American family. In "Real Life", a "mockumentary", Albert Brooks attempts to do the same thing setting out to film a year in the life of the Yeager's. Hundreds of families are put through dozens of different tests and in the end, the Yeager's of Phoenix are chosen over another family from Wisconsin, due to nicer weather conditions. Albert Brooks (who plays himself) moves to Phoenix, next door to the Yeager's and begins his film. Warren Yeager (Grodin), the father of the group, immediately begins to try and be as pleasant as possible and tries to make his family (a wife, one boy and one girl) follow suit. Later, problems arise as Warren, a veterinarian, kills a show horse, Mrs. Yeager (McCain) loses her grandmother to a stroke and the media starts to stick their nose in as well.

I'll try to keep this short and sweet, as my complaints far outweigh my praise. There have been a number of films in the book that I've liked less than this one, but nine times out of ten, I've been able to chalk those dislikes in the "not for me" column. With "Real Life" however, not only did I not like it, I just cannot understand the appeal or why it is included in a book that has the sole purpose of providing us with a list of "must see" films. In my opinion, there is absolutely nothing "must see" about "Real Life" and while Albert Brooks is funny in it, the rest of the film has absolutely no appeal for me.

I understand the experiment and I appreciate the originality, but it just didn't work for me and it's a real shame that there are dozens of films that I can think of, off the top of my head, that are more suited to be praised in this book, other than "Real Life".

Let's just bottom line this and get it over with: Albert Brooks is somewhat funny, Charles Grodin is somewhat funny, but as a whole the film just didn't have me in stitches or anything and for the most part simply had me scratching my head at it's inclusion. If it had been a film that I had just come across and said "Hey, I'll give this a shot", then maybe I could've appreciated it more, but as a film that is supposed to be one of the 1001 greatest films ever made...I'm left speechless.

RATING: 3/10 '3' for the comedic efforts of Brooks and Grodin, but definitely not one of my favorites and a definite recommendation to avoid.


April 25, 2011 7:51pm

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