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
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
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.