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The Reality Plague Hits Theaters

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Today I sat through 90 minutes of reality entertainment that left me convinced there are far too many dollars in the pockets of people who have nothing to do, because unlike Reality TV The Real Cancun is a Reality movie.

Hardly capable of qualifying as a cinematic experience (the trailers and car advertisements prior to the film are more engaging), The Real Cancun seems to be a marketing experiment. One I hope will fail miserably.

Fresh out of the editing room, the movie focuses on a group of "twenty-somethings" during spring break 2003. They are all brought to a Cancun hotel and, as usual, there aren't enough bedrooms and showers for everyone, nor are there the same number of guys and girls.

Instead of musical chairs, call it musical beds.

Perhaps because the American public will have to pay to see this slice of life, (versus the free fare on the tube), the creators of this film have included plenty of naked breasts and buttocks that aren't obscured by digital blurring techniques. Going further than any televised reality show has dared, this R-rated movie will raise the bar yet another notch in the challenge to squeeze the most sleaze into this genre.

Some of the outings captured at this tropical Hormone Hotel include visits to various clubs on the peninsula where "sexually suggestive" would be a serious understatement when describing the dancing, and a wet t-shirt contest -- except it appears someone forgot the shirts. When the sun goes down, grainy shots from in-room cameras allow us to be privy to sexual intercourse between the newlymates, complete with sound.

Helping to keep these young people “in the mood” is a constant supply of every type of liquor imaginable. Shots are doused continuously, and one male participant's commitment to abstain from alcohol is quickly quenched by peer pressure. By the end of the movie, he’s the biggest lush of them all.

Just in case you thought to accuse the film of lacking creativity, the cast's macho males have developed a novel -- or should we say navel -- drinking receptacle. Laying a young lady on the bar, alcohol is poured onto her stomach, so the anxious boozer may lick it off.

Should you be thinking, "I'm glad kids can't get into the theater to see this," think again. An undercover study done by the FTC in late 2001 showed 1 out of 3 13-year-olds could gain access to R-rated movies, and nearly 2 out of 3 16-year-olds could do the same. Besides, the R-rating has never kept out young people who have a convenient 18 -year-old friend to go with them.
If promoting a partying lifestyle complete with sex and substance abuse wasn’t enough, New Line Cinema has been marketing the film in prime-teen areas, including ads on American Idol.

I doubt The Real Cancun will be a box office success. From a purely artistic point of view, it would be lucky to get a passing grade in a high school media class. Either way, the movie will likely take the expressway to cable TV, and perhaps one of the many major networks desperate to push the limits of decency. And be certain a DVD is in the works that will include additional scenes that even the R-rating wouldn’t allow.
Considering this week’s news of plans to begin a 24-hour Reality TV cable channel (it’s being developed by the co-founder of E! Entertainment Television and a businessman who is a former reality show contestant), there’s little doubt this genre will continue to grow. And that reality is unfortunate.

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About the Reviewer: Rod Gustafson

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