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About the Movie
Albert Brooks, known for his outrageous short films for TV's original Saturday Night Live, has brought his special brand of madness to the screen. In his directorial debut. Brooks presents a hilarious account of what happens to a typical American family when a group of filmmakers moves in with them to record "real life." Brooks heads up the crew that invades the Phoenix household of Charles Grodin, Frances Lee McCain and their children. The results are disastrous...and hysterically funny.
Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews
- Reviews Counted: 17
- Fresh: 15
- Rotten: 2
- Average Rating: 7.0/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: Mr. Brooks is at his most droll.
Fresh: Albert Brooks's first and funniest feature.
Fresh: Brooks's directorial debut is also one of his best movies, largely due to the funny man's trademark multitasking as writer, actor and helmer.
The funniest American movie ever...
...okay, perhaps an overstatement, but it's Albert at his best. Albert skews Hollywood ego, predicts reality TV and makes his masterpiece the first time out. It's time for a full-blown revival of Real Life, to see why those in the know consider this a jewel in the crown of American comedy.
A Real “Killer” B Movie (one of 237!)
This review is an excerpt from my book “Killer B’s: The 237 Best Movies On Video You’ve (Probably) Never Seen,” which is available as an ebook on iBooks. If you enjoy this review, there are 236 more like it in the book (plus a whole lot more). Check it out!
REAL LIFE: Reality TV can trace its roots back to 1973, when PBS aired “An American Family,” a unique series in which a real family’s life was filmed and shown on TV. “The motion picture you are about to see,” states an introductory note to “Real Life,” “is the next step. It documents not only the life of a real family, but of the real people who came to film that family, and the effect they had on each other.” Thus begins a yearlong invasion of the lives of Phoenix veterinarian Warren Yeager (Grodin) and his wife Janette (McCain) by comedian-turned-filmmaker Albert Brooks (Brooks).
Murphy’s Martial Law is declared immediately: Brooks accompanies Mrs. Y to the gynecologist (who is wary of allowing cameras in his office...not for modesty’s sake, but because he’s “had a bad experience with the ‘60 Minutes’ people”). Janette comes on to Albert, who makes only token efforts to dissuade her. Janette’s grandmother dies, and Warren loses his patient (a horse) and his mind. “That was just the beginning of what was to be a bad time in the Yeager’s lives,” Brooks narrates. And even a battery of psychologists isn’t enough to keep Brooks’ own ego in check. But despite disintegrating lives, personalities and projects, he’s determined to give his first film a memorable, “Gone with the Wind”-style finale...
Quantum physics revealed the principle of “observer interference,” which, very simply, states that even the innocuoous act of observing a physical event affects the outcome of the event, but no one ever took this principle quite as far as Brooks. In his first feature, a parody of the seminal PBS series, he illustrates how that documentary might have turned out had it been overseen by an excessively ambitious, passive-aggressively manipulative megalomaniac; a whining, wheedling weasel too egocentric to have the camera pointed anywhere but at himself.
Brooks proves a constant frustration to the shrinks assigned as observers, as well; informed that his filming has triggered “drastic emotional changes” in the family, his response is, “And that’s bad?” Upfront he states, “We’re making a movie about reality”—but fortunately for us, it’s Brooks’ neurotically warped version of reality that ends up on film: a reality that even Brooks eventually has to admit “sucks.” Lucky for us!