The Real Cancun

My Rating:

So unique, it's practically unratable; both sordid and spellbinding, puerile and engrossing.

Bitable Bytes:
"Bikinis Fly Off!"
"...The Most...!"
"A Young Adult's Fantasy!"
"...Really Very Cool!"

What to do while watching:
If between 17 and 21, go mad with envy and desire. Everyone older must experience his or her own mix of amusement, revulsion, astonishment, pity, arousal, ennui, and etc. Anyone younger shouldn't be watching: there are mature themes and many, many bared bosoms.

What to eat while watching:
First the salt, then the shot, then the lime.

I have been to the Real Cancun, and I will not soon forget it. Take MTV's The Real World and change it from a weekly series to a feature-length film, and you have The Real Cancun. In case you've never seen The Real World (and I haven't), it wasn't long ago that Mrs. Filthy was doing an magnificent job of reviewing each and every episode to the extent that watching the actual show became moot. You can read her archives here at

For those who don't know, The Real World was arguably the headwaters of the contemporary "reality TV" craze. Bunim/Murray, the show's creators, took a handful of young men and women, threw them into a swanky pad in a major metropolitan area, and filmed the shenanigans, whether racy (rarely, according to Mrs. F.); or dull and repetitive (the usual, according to same). For a dozen seasons, the show traveled from New York to San Francisco to Las Vegas to Hawaii, and always the same character types seemed to appear: the girl who cries, the boy who's untrue, and so on. In Cancun, the territory is familiar.

You get the cute party boy, a basically harmless person who adds life to the never-ending string of bashes and club nights, but never raises issues, suffers consequences, or precipitates ramifications. In this case, that's Casey the Model. Then there's the straight-laced Joe who either gets over his uptightness and learns to party or remains ever dull and bitter. In Cancun, that's Alan the Guy from Texas. It seems inevitable for specific minorities to be represented: at least a couple African-Americans (Paul, Jorell, and Sky), perhaps a homosexual (David?), and often an actual brunette (Amber).

Season after season, I glean from the martyrly Mother Filthy, the same issues arise. What's-Her-Face feels torn between the beau at home and the beau in the Real World house. So-And-So deals with a budding tendency toward alcoholism. That-One-Guy wants intimacy, but can't stop sowing the wild oats. These young people represent adulthood to their teenage MTV viewers: sex, parties, and gallons of booze. To actual adults, the Real World cast represents the follies of youth as well as its boundless energy and its amazing blossom of physicality.

In Cancun, the latter is most pronounced, and the rating is R. Bikinis fly off of women! Bermuda shorts drop like ripe coconuts! While we're talking about reality filming, let's not forget the strong influence of Girls Gone Wild that's obvious in this film. Besides getting naked for the crowd, bedroom cams depict the rough-and-tumble rutting of kids on spring break.

Besides sex, drama rears its head almost as often. We find out that Matt the Brat is a cavalier, spoiled user and Sarah from Arizona is glad not to have "done anything" with him, especially since she has a boyfriend at home who treats her "like a f***ing princess," in her own words. Dave and Heidi are great buddies, but have never been lovers though everyone wonders why. With enough alcohol, however... Then, there's Jerry the Womanizer who seduces Small Town Laura for a night, then some other Cancun reveler the next night. Laura gets drunk and stages the most awkward, cringingly indirect confrontation I've ever seen. But hormones and tequila will do that.

Fly Sky shows herself to be the most emotionally mature of the bunch. Not falling for Smoove Paul's highly polished act, she doesn't jump into bed with him, but nurtures a steady courtship. When Paul goes to bed with some girl he meets at a party, Sky is disappointed, but doesn't judge Paul. She just says she thought he was someone else, and she doesn't stay angry.

But the movie is mainly about Snoop Dog who shows up to sing at the big farewell party. No, not really. The movie is mainly about Alan from Texas who has never had a drink in his life and spends most of his time in what Sebadoh would call "a stinking display of sexual confusion." He's totally angst-ridden, alienates dates by fidgeting with his silverware while talking about how he doesn't just want sex, and runs away from the few girls who come on to him.

With enough pressure from the macho alphas: Corey the Model, Jerry the Womanizer, and Matt the Brat, Alan finally gets really into drinking shot after shot of tequila from the navels of bikini-clad women. Having broken his life-long sobriety, he declares, "Now, I think I deserve to see some hooters!" Thinking Al needs more confidence, some of the girls set up a sexy-hunk contest, rigged so that Alan can win with his ridiculous gyrations and reluctant strip-tease.

Finally, Alan meets a woman from France and that spells romance. Indeed, he doesn't get her under the boudoir cam, but just makes out with her by the sea and finds out that the French don't call French kissing "French kissing."

Other characters flit around too: two twins from Minnesota, a dark-haired woman, chunky Jorell, some other people, and two Bunim-Murray staff guys who are about two years older than the oldest Real-Worlder and really just want to party with them.

What confuses me is how anyone could mistake this slice of life with the "real world." It's a young adult's fantasy, a lottery for the freedom to party unconditionally as well as a small, sugary slice of stardom. Nevertheless, I can see by the length of my review that I have a lot to say about it, so at the very least, it was far more interesting in certain ways than just a regular kind of movie. Perhaps since I haven't watched more than twenty minutes of reality television over the last decade, this film has quenched a heretofore unrecognized thirst in me, and that is why I couldn't turn away.

Oh, but more than that, I confess to rewinding to watch particular moments on three separate occasions! And not even for the topless scenes. These kids need to enunciate! I had to know what they were saying, so I stopped, rewound, and still couldn't quite get what they were talking about. I feel so damnably old! If I were on that show, I'd give it class! I could still party hearty and get all jiggy with things, but I'd offer some illuminating dialogue on my surroundings and roommates. And I'd have the sense to put a sock over the bedroom cam. Why can't they do a Real World, not with Paris Hilton and Lionel Richie's daughter, but with a copywriter from Richmond who's really very cool? Bunim! Murray! I'm calling you! I want to go to Playa del Corazon next spring break! I'm regressing to my fantasies of fifteen years ago. I'll give you drama! I'll seduce and be seduced! And I'll speak clearly! Call me.

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For your collection: The Real Cancun (DVD), The Real Cancun (VHS)

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