June 20, 2007

Real Life (Brooks, 1979)

Brooks's debut feature solidifies my burgeoning belief that his directorial work represents some of the most intelligent, most sophisticated, and of course funniest, American comedy in existence. In Real Life, he plays a filmmaker named Albert Brooks, who sets out to film a "real" family over the course of an entire year. His belief is that the human drama of everyday life will make for a more truthful and exciting film than anything Hollywood could produce.

The result of (both) Brooks's efforts is a prescient and delightfully reflexive examination of the hypocrisies intrinsic to filming so-called "reality," and serves as evidence that Brooks's trademark wit was fully formed from the outset. Inspired by "An American Family," the 1973 PBS show considered the first reality TV show, Real Life is to a certain extent parody, though it is parody of a more insightful, ambitious form. If for nothing else, see this film for the "Ettnauer 226XL," quite simply one of the most ingenious comedic devices of all time.

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