Real Life (1979)

PG  |   |  Comedy  |  23 March 1979 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,622 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 16 critic

A pushy, narcissistic filmmaker persuades a Phoenix family to let him and his crew film their everyday lives, in the manner of the ground-breaking PBS series "An American Family". However, ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dick Haynes ...
Councilman Harris
Matthew Tobin ...
Dr. Howard Hill
Dr. Ted Cleary
Joseph Schaffler ...
Paul Lowell
Phyllis Quinn ...
Donna Stanley
James Ritz ...
Jack from Cincinnati
Clifford Einstein ...
Role Reversal Family Member
Harry Einstein ...
Role Reversal Family Member
Mandy Einstein ...
Role Reversal Family Member
Karen Einstein ...
Role Reversal Family Member
Driving Evaluator
Zeke Manners ...
Warren Yeager
Jeannette Yeager


A pushy, narcissistic filmmaker persuades a Phoenix family to let him and his crew film their everyday lives, in the manner of the ground-breaking PBS series "An American Family". However, instead of remaining unobtrusive and letting the family be themselves, he can't keep himself from trying to control every facet of their lives "for the good of the show". Written by

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PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

23 March 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aus dem Leben gegriffen  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the first production meeting scene, producer Martin Brand rattles off some possible big-name stars that could be recruited to star in the reality movie: "Where the hell's Paul Newman? Where's [Robert Redford]? Where's [Jack Nicholson]? . . . " He then suggests that the movie would make more money with Neil Diamond as the "star". A producer actually suggested Diamond for the Travis Bickle role in Taxi Driver (1976) (in which Albert Brooks had a supporting role). See more »


Martin Brand: [on speakerphone] Albert, may I interrupt for one minute please? People aren't gonna walk out of a theater saying, "I don't like that guy... that guy that holds the cup with one hand, with two hands ... "
Albert Brooks: Absolutely.
Martin Brand: I'll tell you what they DO have a good chance of saying: "Where the hell is Paul Newman? Where's Redford? Where's Nicholson?" Believe me they prefer Nicholson with the cup than the cup with the other guy.
See more »


Spoofs An American Family (1973) See more »


Jump Into The Fire
Written by Harry Nilsson
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User Reviews

Albert the Great
7 February 2000 | by See all my reviews

There's no question that Albert Brooks is not for everybody - his particular blend of neuroticism and egomania can be way too much for most people. But if you can get on his wavelength, and when he's at his best - oh man! There's absolutely no one better. Real Life is Brooks' best movie, and deserves to be more widely known than it is. His portrayal of a controlling producer, who is willing to violate not only broadcast ethics but the standards of decency and good sense as well in order to inject life into his failing "documentary" is frightening, off-putting and truly hilarious all at once.

When I first saw this movie, I didn't realize it was based on an actual television experiment. I bring this up only because when I first saw the film, I felt its only flaw was that it didn't spend enough time showing the family and their disintegration in front of the cameras, choosing instead to focus almost exclusively on Brooks and his manic responses to the dilemma this posed. However, knowing that the real life experiment would have already been familiar to people, Brooks clearly wanted to use this movie to examine not the family but the bankrupt commercial mindset which would put such a project into play in the first place. As such, his satire is dead on and nobody could more perfectly embody the entertainment industry than Brooks himself. Just to see him smarmily singing and glad-handing at the beginning is worth the cost.

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