Real Life (1979 film)

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Real Life
Directed byAlbert Brooks
Produced byPenelope Spheeris
Written byAlbert Brooks
Monica Johnson
Harry Shearer
StarringAlbert Brooks
Charles Grodin
Frances Lee McCain
J. A. Preston
Matthew Tobin
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • March 29, 1979 (1979-03-29)
Running time
99 minutes
Box office$364,642[1]

Real Life is a 1979 American comedy film starring Albert Brooks (in his directorial debut), who also co-authored the screenplay. It is a spoof of the 1973 reality television program An American Family and portrays a documentary filmmaker named Albert Brooks who attempts to live with and film a dysfunctional family for one full year.

Charles Grodin co-stars as the family's patriarch who consents to permit cameras in his Arizona home. Real-life producer Jennings Lang also has an acting role in Real Life.


A documentary filmmaker (Albert Brooks) enlists a family for a new cinematic and scientific experiment that intends to capture every waking moment of their daily life on film. Out of all the families that are chosen, the ordinary family of the Yeagers of Phoenix, Arizona are chosen. It is a project Brooks confidently announces to a large gathering in the city, even greeting them with a song. Two other doctors are enlisted in order to evaluate the family through the progression of the project.

The concept is for the Yeagers and their two children to go about their business at their Phoenix home, work and school as if nothing is different from a typical day, ignoring the fact that men wearing cameras that look like Star Wars helmets are recording every move they make and every word they say.

Brooks promises to be as unobtrusive as possible, taking up a separate residence in the neighborhood and promising not to interfere. Little by little, though, the stress of everyday life is complicated by the presence of the film crew. Brooks also becomes the unwitting object of Mrs. Yeager's attentions.

Yeager, a veterinarian, becomes grief-stricken when he is filmed accidentally causing a horse's death. A grandparent's death similarly upsets Jeannette. Soon the couple stops talking, becoming, as Brooks puts it, "lifeless" in their every day life. The unscrupulous man from Hollywood is likely to go to any lengths to make his film more interesting, even if it means dressing up as a clown to cheer them up. After a meeting between Brooks and the others, one of the doctors leaves the project, citing how it seems to have lost control. He soon publishes a book that is negative of the project, equating it to a cult. At one point, a film crew from a television station attempts to write a "fluff piece" about the family, but Brooks angrily throws them out of the house. Soon after, the news stations attempt to get coverage of the family, barraging their lives no matter where they go. Not long after, another meeting of Brooks and the people of the institute occurs, revolving around the possibility of ending the project. Brooks attempts to defend keeping the project going by bringing the Yeagers, but the family decides to abandon the project. Despite his pleas for them to stay, they do not change their minds. Soon after, Brooks decides that the only way to keep the project going is to set their house on fire, citing the burning of Atlanta from Gone with the Wind, joyfully exclaiming on how spectacular of an ending this is.



As of April 2018, Real Life holds a rating of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 19 reviews.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Real Life (1979) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  2. ^

External links[edit]