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Real Life (Widescreen)
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Just as The Twelve Chairs is one of Mel Brooks's least-known movies and most deserving of rediscovery, so is Real Life, the first feature film by Albert Brooks (no relation), a buried treasure.
An expansion of one of the short films Brooks created for the inaugural season of Saturday Night Live (and when will someone release those on video?), Real Life takes its cue from An American Family, the landmark 1973 PBS documentary that unflinchingly captured on film the life and gradual dissolution of the wildly dysfunctional Loud family. As a satire of the media's intrusion into our lives, it would make an ideal double-feature with The Truman Show.
Brooks stars as himself, a comedian who, he states, would have been a scientist had he "studied harder or been graded more fairly." Though obliviously unqualified, he is spearheading a project that endeavors to capture a year in the life of a typical American family.
Charles Grodin stars as put-upon Warren Yeager, the Phoenix, Arizona, veterinarian who watches helplessly as the callous Brooks overwhelms his life. (At one point, Brooks makes an entrance in a clown suit to cheer up the depressed brood.) Frances Lee McCain costars as Grodin's wife, who develops a crush on Brooks. "I'm a shallow fellow," he insincerely dissuades her.
This docu-comedy is vintage Brooks, but so dryly deadpan that the uninitiated might not be in on the joke. Among the scenes that are classics in the Brooks canon are his hilariously inappropriate production number that launches the film (he belts out "Something's Gotta Give" to the locals), his cheery dismissal of the unnecessary but union-imposed film crew ("See you at the premiere!"), the revelation that Mrs. Yeager's gynecologist is a notorious "baby broker" previously exposed on 60 Minutes, and the increasingly fractious production meetings in which an old-Hollywood producer (listening in on speaker phone) insists that Brooks cast James Caan as a neighbor.
Real Life was cowritten by Monica Johnson, who later collaborated with Brooks on Modern Romance, Lost in America, The Scout, Mother, and Harry Shearer (from another classic mockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap), who also appears as Pete the cameraman. --Donald Liebenson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Charles Grodin is hysterical as the head of the chosen household, and is given much of the hysterical material. His scene with a veterinary operation is stellar. And much of the humor is punctuated by the consistent appearance by cameramen, wearing an obscene and silly contraption, sort of a camera helmet. (Harry Shearer is one of the cameramen...) Still, by the films end, this is a well-executed one-joke comedy and like other Brooks films, the structure suffers by the third act.
REAL LIFE is a funny film and a great start for Brooks. A must for fans of his work...
Observe the palpable fear given off by Charles Grodin as he tries to dissuade Brooks from showing the footage of him losing one of his patients (he's a veterinarian, so he loses a horse. Big animals are funnier than little ones.) on the table due to his error. Or check out the "put your couch pillow over your face and scream silently" scene in "Modern Romance" where Albert calls a random woman in his roladex, having just broken up with his on-again, off-again girlfriend. Of course, the uncomfortable nature of the scene is intensified by the fact that Albert has just taken two quaaludes before making the call. Watch him confess his love to a woman who he later admits, "I'm not QUITE sure who she is or where I know her from." Wow! A long way from the clever but unassuming takes on the afterlife and the misadventures of a greek muse in the 20th century. The closest he's come in recent films is "Mother," which I had the mis/fortune of seeing with my own mother! What a relief that my own laughs of recognition were covered up by hers, as she related all of the matronly satire to her own mom!Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This has got to be Albert Brooks near his best. A real funny movie. Make sure to get the DVD version of this with the extra interview with brooks (circa 2001)
and don't forget... Read more
Ironically there is a scene in "Real Life" where Albert Brooks (playing himself) considers ripping off the ending of Star Wars to end his own film. Read morePublished on Sept. 22 2001
This film was a satire on a (mostly forgotten) documentary about the Loud family, in which they followed the family through every facet of their lives. Read morePublished on March 2 2001 by Vinnie Bartilucci
THE VHS TRANSFER OF THIS FILM LOOKS LIKE A COPY OF A COPY OF A TELEVISION BROADCAST. PERHAPS THE DVD IS BETTER (WAIT A MINUTE--- IT HAS TO BE BETTER, SINCE IT COULD NOT POSSIBLY BE... Read morePublished on Feb. 28 2001 by J. Figler
Perhaps I just got a bad tape, but the color quality of the film seemed to be lacking, sort of like a washed out old home movie. Read morePublished on Aug. 15 2000 by Tesla
Albert as his most brilliant. Based (I presume) on the appalingly dull PBS program "An American Family"... Read morePublished on July 12 2000
The concept alone of this film is hilarious, and I think it's really the first of its kind - a pre-cursor to films like EdTV and The Truman Show. Read morePublished on Aug. 4 1999