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The easiest way to annoy the countless documentary filmmakers out there is to film a bunch of people doing crazy stuff and call it “the world’s first reality movie”. What’s a documentary then if it’s not a reality movie? And so begins the rather puzzling attempt at entertainment that is The Real Cancun. Combining the best from cable shows such as MTV’s Real World and Wild On with the teen stupidity of, well, any teen movie, the streets of Cancun have seen kids like these since the dawn of time. What makes them stand out from the crowd? A rather large camera crew, one would think.

Real Cancun, The
Movie
Amazingly filmed only five weeks before its theatrical release in the States, The Real Cancun sees a group of teenagers hand picked to spend their Spring break in Cancun, Mexico, with all the free food, booze and sex they can get their hands on. And believe me, most of them get their fair share over the course of their seven short days in the sun.

The mix of boys and girls is an intriguing one. They’re not all just your A-list teenagers who are knowingly beautiful. That clique is certainly represented but ultimately they become support players to some of the more eccentric members of the group. There’s Heidi and David, best friends for years who you know have that underlying urge just to jump each other’s bones and be done with it but won’t for fear of “ruining their friendship”. Jorell and Paul are the Afro-American version of Abbot and Costello, used mainly for comic relief and a bit of a different spin on the whole get drunk, get laid pattern of the film.

But the slant of the story ultimately turns to nice guy Alan. He’s never had a drink before in his life and declares the situation won’t change despite his current situation. To say the others are shocked would be an understatement. Alan’s the guy from school who keeps to himself in class and admires those more popular from afar. In this loose excuse for a film it is he who becomes the star, going from straight-laced nerd-boy to a skinny drunkard with a penchant for “boobies”. He’s worth the price of admission alone.

The rest of the cast is mere window dressing, chosen well for their cosmetic talents rather than bubbly personalities. The other boys typify your newly crowned school graduate while the girls portray that nice girl image only until a few vodkas slip by. If that sounds like a loose kind of storyline then it is, because this film is nothing more than a camera crew following a bunch of teenagers given carte blanche to get crazy for the best Spring break of their lives.

The critical caning the film received during its theatrical run would’ve done nothing to dissuade the fifteen to thirty-something males from checking this film out on the perve factor alone. The fact that The Real Cancun disappoints even on this front would not have gone down well with those said males, pardon the pun. When the whole thrust is booze and sex one wonders why there wasn’t more of the latter crammed into the rather average running time of 93 minutes. It’s not that it should’ve been there, just that the omission of rampant nudity surprises when there really isn’t a logical pattern to any of it.

Real Cancun, The
When you’ve got only a few weeks to edit what would’ve been a fair whack of footage from the week in Cancun it comes as no surprise that the overall flow of the film is severely lacking. What could’ve turned into a rather amusing and slightly saddening tale of Alan’s corruption by his peers turns into a bit of a mess seemingly because those in charge didn’t want to stray from their overall plan. The stories of the more interesting pairings of kids weren’t explored nearly enough as they should’ve been, so the trimmed down nakedness (save for one hot wet t-shirt contest) makes things even worse when you can’t even cater to those just looking for a bit of a peek.

There are many who will lap this kind of film up. Reality TV is popular for a reason which ensures The Real Cancun an audience come the time for its release on DVD. But it wouldn’t surprise that a large portion of that Survivor, Big Brother, Temptation Island loving crew come out the other end more than a little disappointed. There are certainly moments that are strangely compelling for no other reason than a glorified character study, but when it starts looking a little set up and pretentious you can’t help but get over it after a while.

There’s certainly enough in there to keep you entertained for while before you merely become tired of looking at a bunch of kids you couldn’t care less about, save for maybe poor Alan. The way it has been edited strips any kind of emotional connection between the lab rats and their audience, so one would be very surprised if most of the footage just doesn’t merely wash straight over you without any effect. It’s a shame, too, because if done correctly this kind of film would have provided some really great stories that don’t get covered in documentary filmmaking. The first reality movie it aint, and how “real” any of it actually is is debatable.

Video
The 1.78:1 image is obviously of a lesser quality to those of your new release film transfers purely on the basis of being shot using lower quality stock. The grain is generally pretty rampant but never gets in the way of being able to see any drunken antics. The colours are very impressive and needed to be for a place like sunny Cancun, so thankfully the transfer comes through triumphantly in that department. Overall there’s very little to say except this is a very serviceable transfer that makes the most out of limited opportunities to shine.

Real Cancun, The
Audio
We move from place to place with the some of the latest rock and pop songs so thankfully the Dolby Digital 5.1 track pumps out the tunes pretty darn well. All the speakers are used to really pump up the volume on the music so we don’t get tired of watching drunk kids all day. The surrounds are also used very experimentally to surprisingly good effect, as if the work experience kid was given free reign of the mixing desk when they were mastering this disc.

As for any dialogue, crowd noises or the like bouncing around the rears there’s basically none. The necessity isn’t there to have hundreds of party-goers blasting out of the rear speakers as well as the front so it’s no big deal that most of it sits firmly towards the front of the sound stage. Rear surrounds are occupied well by the music so this is a good mix overall.

Extras
Just like New Line’s Region 1 version, there are a few extras here to bulk up the DVD release of the film. From top to bottom, first up is the cast insights section, which gives us a little more from the main players through one on one interviews. Strangely, little cutie Laura is absent from the interviews, which is a shame because she’s one of the crew who should’ve had more screen time. It also uncovers some of the real background characters who came along but just didn’t get any screen time at all.

The deleted scenes section is where the real value lies. You’ve got a real intense fight with two members of the group, some interviews with the players on some of the others, more on Alan’s escapades, an STD song that’ll have you giggling and some priceless wet t-shirt contest footage that somehow wasn’t involved in the theatrical cut. At least they turned up the perve meter to eleven in the extras section so those teenage boys can get some value out of the disc.

Real Cancun, The
Moving on, the A Day At The Beach section features three different pieces from, obviously, one of the groups days at the beach. Here we have three different contests. The first is an extended cut of the wet t-shirt contest that did make it into the final version, the second is a pie eating contest with a sexy twist, and a bizarre spanking contest with seemingly no point at all.

The last meaningful piece is from the theatrical premiere, where the “cast” is interviewed as they rock up to watch the show. It would’ve been good to see what they really thought afterwards but that may have been a dangerous exercise. Instead we get a few words from the post-party making this piece a little bit of fluff that is still a welcome addition to the disc.

Rounding out the collection is the theatrical trailer and a series of TV spots for the film. The extras section may be a bit light on but there’s enough value in here to warrant a one-off viewing at least, though I’m sure the blokes will give the wet t-shirt footage more than the odd spin every now and then.

Real Cancun, The
Overall
It’s trash, and we all know it. There’s some value in a few little stories here and there but overall there’s not enough of a coherent form to be of any real value. Alan’s story is a crack up and should’ve been the thrust of the movie, but the reality genre dictates that there’s gotta be a lot of action going on to make it entertainment. The sex factor has been seemingly turned down save for a couple of semi-raunchy extras, while a few of the best bits weren’t included in the theatrical cut during the quick editing session after the week-long shoot. Video and audio do the job well and the extras are worth a single look so the disc isn’t all that shabby, it’s just whether you’ll find any value out of the “film” that’s the question.


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