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The Real Cancun (R)
New Line Cinema
Official Site
Director: Peter Segal
Producers: Mary Ellis-Bunim, Jonathan Murray, Jamie Schutz, Rick de Oliveira
Cast: Brittany, Fletch, Sarah, Roxanne, Nicole, Jeremy, Alan, Jorrell, Paul, Casey, Laura, Heidi, David, Amber, Sky, Matt

Rating: out of 5


Well I’ll be damned. I must admit that I was not thrilled about seeing The Real Cancun. I would even go so far as to say I flat out didn’t want to. I like reality television as much as anybody (actually, maybe I don’t), but the look of this movie in trailers and advertisements gave me a poor vibe. But alas, aren’t these the greatest moments in life, when you have extremely low expectations regarding something and then it turns out to be pleasantly good? Such is the case with The Real Cancun.

The story is simple. Sixteen college-age kids are flown down to Cancun for last March’s spring break. While there they are pampered like you’ve never seen and stay in a place that you and I could only dream about (if you thought the “Real World” houses were great, wait till you see this). They drink, they mingle, they flirt, and they hook up, everything you would expect from young co-eds in Mexico. If all this sounds boring to you don’t shut the door on Cancun just yet, for there is plenty of entertainment in this film.

First thing’s first. Is this just a 90-minute reality TV show? Yes, it is. And unlike series like “Real World” or “Survivor,” we aren’t given the luxury of many weeks to learn about and identify with the cast. That’s what surprised me the most about Cancun. I thought that making a reality film would be near impossible because of some of the obvious constraints, but the tag team of Bunim and Murray comes through again. We should consider that, first and foremost, reality TV is never really reality and Cancun proves that even more so than the typical shows. This is by no means a documentary. Everything that happens is real, but you are only seeing what the producers want you to see, in the order they want you to see it, with the music they want you to hear. And they go even further here by splicing in non-reality cuts from time to time to accentuate the plot a little further. They need to turn these normal people into characters in order to achieve an entertaining experience and they are very crafty in the ways they do this. I’m not complaining however, because there wouldn’t be much to this film if they hadn’t tweaked it.

Cancun is an interesting study on those fascinating creatures called humans. Indeed we are a perplexing dichotomy and Cancun works on exploiting the most outrageous sub-culture of them all: college students. In all honesty I could see a sociology professor showing this film to a class. If there is anything that can be learned from Cancun it’s that drama is unstoppable. I never would have thought that if you threw 16 perfect strangers together for only a week you could create a fifth of the drama that develops in Cancun. Everyone begins to hook up and then screw other people and then apologize and so on. This drama is the fuel of the movie and it is the biggest factor toward making it enjoyable (after all, life is drama, right?).

As mentioned earlier, Cancun is character-driven and they covered almost all the bases here. You’ve got your small-town girl from Wisconsin, the pretty-boy model, female twins, and so on. Just about everyone is enjoyable in their own way, but some definitely stand out. The two “token black guys” who are there for sheer comedic relief turn out to be not only hilarious, but essential to the plot. These two guys, Jorrel and Paul, probably contributed more than the producers had ever hoped for. And then there’s Alan. If there is one person the entire movie revolves around it’s Alan. He’s the typical freshman dork from Lubbock, Texas who’s never really had a girlfriend and isn’t really sure why he’s in Cancun. He is extremely frustrated when it comes to the opposite sex and spends most of the film venting about his inability to get a girl and then blows opportunity after opportunity. You feel quite sorry for Alan in the beginning, but after he is begged by a girl to go frolic with her and he (literally) runs away, you’re bleeding heart begins to turn to stone.

I won’t give away any spoilers of the plot, but I must say it is paper thin. Everything that you expect is going to happen does. I suppose not having a script makes it difficult to dictate a plot, but there were certain times I was looking for a twist here or there. Another complaint is that they used way too many people and inevitably, some are simply forgotten. I can remember 2 or 3 people that weren’t shown more than twice.

Cancun is not for everyone. I have never seen a movie that seemed to have such a tightly structured demographic. I would rate it at somewhere between ages 18 and 24, give or take a few years. I really can’t see anyone much outside that age range getting anything from it. It’s a college movie, about college kids, for college kids. This is one of the things that made my movie experience so enjoyable. About 95% of the crowd I saw the film with fit this demographic and they had fun with it. Twenty minutes in I began to realize that it was okay to talk during this movie the way you would watching reality TV at home. People yelled stuff out and carried on and it’s the only time I think this has added to my moviegoing experience. If you see this with a young crowd it makes it that much more enjoyable.

A final thumbs up to the producers on not over-doing it with the sex and nudity (I know, is that even possible?). The commercials would have you believe this is the big-screen version of “Girls Gone Wild,” but they keep it to a minimum and that restraint seems to really benefit the movie.

Bottom line: The Real Cancun is a 90-minute episode of “Real World” in Cancun, but done in a slightly different way to make it more accommodating to movie audiences. You should know what you’re getting into before you see it from the trailers alone, so if it looks like something for you, you’ll probably enjoy it.

P.S. If at all possible, try to not see this film while sitting next to an 80-year-old woman. I wasn’t so lucky.

—Corey Herrick

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Lee Koch



Pink Floyd

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