Its tempting to say that Real Life was ingeniously ahead of its time because it satirized reality entertainment about twenty years before the current reality TV craze. But reality entertainment isnt all that new. The Real World has been on the air for more then ten years; quiz shows were popular in the fifties and earlier; never mind the news,,documentary filmmaking and other non-fiction narratives. Brooks was inspired by earlier, but less popular reality shows, so it isnt as if he foresaw the current reality trend.
What Brooks and his co-writers do very well and perhaps
a bit predictively, however, is tap into the great weakness of current reality programming by asking, how would an archetypal Hollywood asshole make a real feature? Shows like Survivor, as opposed to say, most documentaries, take real people, put them into artificial, externally controlled circumstances and attempt to manipulate, edit and sometimes fake their subjects and footage into a preconceived narrative with mass appeal. But since most of the action is not quite scripted, the programs are real. Likewise, Brooks character keeps repeating that whatever he and his subjects dono matter how much he interferes–its still real. So, like the producers of Survivor, Brooks is indifferent the fact that what is real is not necessarily authentic.
In the film that we see, however, all of Brooks bungling machinations are captured–something the arrogant Brooks character would never have allowed. The film successfully plays as if the footage was taken out of Brooks hands and edited by someone else into a documentary on a failed reality project.
Real Life is funny. One running joke, which I dont think will be ruined by being revealed here, is the ridiculous apparatuses that Brooks cameramen wear. They are about the size of beach balls and cover the head, with a small camera operating over the eyes and microphones operating over the ears. Consequently, the real film is populated by figures that look hydrocephalic storm troopers.
Real Life is a solid, second tier comedy and
satire made especially relevant by recent trends.
The special features are worthwhile, but not much more
than that. Primarily, there is a short interview with Brooks that is funny and
somewhat interesting. He discusses the financing of the film, his incite into
his character and all of the other usual stuff.
- Overall: 7
- Directing: 7
- Story: 8
- Acting: 6
- Rewatchability: 6
- DVD Goodies: 4