This is the pseudo true, semi staged story of 16 miscreants, picked to soil a Mexican resort hotel for seven days to see what happens when idiots stop being sensible and start getting real…drunk, naked, infected, and bi-sexual.
Hey kids…Old Fogy critic here…'bout to get up in y'all's grills. So if you don't like the rap I'm layin' down, best step off and let someone who cares about they self listen to a non-brother preach.
Honestly, if you are overly sensitive and think that every person over the age of say, thirty, is out of touch, over the hill, and a blithering butthead, this review will not be for you. Might as well return to your reruns of The Fifth Wheel or the latest installment of American Idol Has-Beens and tune out. Not that this would be a stretch for you. Fruit flies, whose lives only consist of one 24-hour day, wish they had the insect like attention span you all have. But we're not here to discuss your deficient personal inability to focus. Indeed, juvenile society has come down with a far more treacherous disease, as insidious as that horrible rock and roll hoochie coo that got your grandma and grandpa all pissed off and the disco inferno that made Ma and Pa Meddle turn shameful somersaults, combined. No, thanks to the cocaine fueled greed frenzies of the 1980s, the slacker as lumberjack juxtaposition of '90s grunge, and the bling blam boom of our current hip hop hullabaloo fixation, the current crop of arrested adolescents suffer from a malady of misplaced morals and absent social stigmas. Scientists have labeled this infirmity Alcohomocidal Syndrome, or the communicable desire to spend one's entire life angry, drunk, and gay. Indeed, with attitudes more destructive than productive, and ethics more exploratory than exemplary, the modern manboytoy and snooty girlsexskank have no problem what so ever sharing their spoiled rotten rebelliousness with a gallon or two of melon flavored schnapps and a few "close" members of the same gender. Don't think it's true? Think AHC is some quack social science sickness? Then pick up a copy of The Real Cancun on DVD and take a good long look at your fellow terminal cases.
Facts of the Case
Once upon a crime, MTV, or Music Television, or that channel that once played videos 24 hours a day but now only repeats original pieces of putrid programming ad nauseam, created a television phenom with a show that mixed eavesdropping with possible eviction entitled The Real World. The premise was savant simplicity. Place seven to eleven divergent, near psychotic fame seekers in a really posh pad for a few months and watch them cabin fever each other into ratings bliss. Now in its 117th Season, this soap opera as spy cam crib crash is more or less an excuse for unemployable twentysomethings to completely flush their life down the toilet in a spray of multi-colored vomit and genital warts ointment. The producers have tried giving these unholy house guests a job, a business, even a sense of civic responsibility and all they can do is pot their shrimp and shave each other's genitals. So naturally, when the human Sodom and Gomorrah that is Spring Break came calling, the never say "enough" network decided that someone on the planet Earth needed a feature length film about overly groomed men, incredibly stuck up girls, and a couple of nerd turd sideshow geeks thrown in just for good measure, all experiencing the age old ritual of alcohol poisoning. Thus, The Real Cancun was stillborn.
The plot, or what little of it there attempts to be, revolves around several superfluous suspense filled concerns like who will be the first to wet their willie, which glam gal will unabashedly flash her ta-tas, and how many of the professional level binge imbibers, in the first night of par-ta-ying, will choke on their own bile. Using fancy editing techniques, some obviously staged events (yeah, like my man Snoop would even consider hanging with these hopeless beatless dingbats), and the time honored traditions of peer pressure, personal degradation, and mood altering libations, a few linear storylines are concocted. These therefore are the "true" stories of:
Alan—Otherwise know as the non-drinking doormat. He is so messed up inside about girls and dating that every time he speaks he sounds like a A.V. geek in desperate need of an eight hour session of Dungeons and Dragons. Showing his true Texas tendencies, he will not consume any liquor that hasn't first been processed through a cattle trough. He eventually relents, gets superhumanly loaded, and becomes The Real Cancun Minister of Revelry.
The Twins (Roxanne and Nicole)—Two vile vixens who look like overworked crack whores in training crossed with a young Lovey Howell. They enter a wet T-shirt contest, even though they are without the requisite body bumps to compete successfully. With their ersatz cocktail waitress mentalities and dive bar drinking voices, these two trumped up tramps become the hard looking leftovers of this vacation's Bacchanalian buffet.
Matt and Sarah—She's a faked titted tease who has a "noble, trusting" boyfriend back home. He's a "wishes-he-were-hot" illiterate bo-hunk who wears fey bandanas and spiked hair. Over the course of the week, they play a wretched game of cat and can't which eventually leads Mr. Muy Macho to seek solace in the loins of some club hopping bimbo. And oddly, this pisses off Miss Already Committed something fierce.
Jeremy—The human horn dog. Carefully shaving all his body hair so that commitment and accountability don't have a chance to cling to him, he likes pumping the ladies as much as the iron. If there is such a thing in this precisely marketed motion picture mess, he is the prototypical Spring Break symbol. Always drunk. Always horny. Never satisfied…and scary as hell!
Jorell, Paul, and Sky—The token African Americans in this house of hedonistic honkeys, they immediately begin a strange ritualized roundelay of "impossible to get" (Sky), "can't/won't take a hint" (Paul), and "too cool to even compete" (Jorell). When a petered out Paul finally wises up and plants his almond joy in an Asian pick-up's mounds, Sky is sleazed out and reads him the ribald riot act. Then she lets him give her oral sex.
Heidi and David—The "platonic" friends who share giggly intimate secrets, frequent young adult "sleep overs," and a sickening enjoyment of Dave's acoustic guitar garbage. JC Penney model six-string in hand (like the sex substitute it is), he performs a couple of his "humorous" songs that are so devoid of irony that they make Martin Mull's "Sex and Violins" sound like Bob Dylan.
Casey—A dumb as a drain clog male (?) "model" from "Miami" who seems more interested in tongue wrestling with anyone or thing who'll say yes than remembering insignificant things like, what day it is. Competes with Jeremy for the overall alcohol intake champion.
And the Rest—Frankly, the film didn't care about Brittany, "Fletch," Amber, and Laura (and she even had sex with Jeremy the first night), so why should we?
Lordy on a logjam, has Spring Break changed. While it has always been an escapist excuse to run from impending adulthood and chase available tanned tail, it's mutated mercilessly over the decades from decent to decadent, good natured to good god! In the '50s it was sneaking beer and kisses under a Daytona or Pensacola moon. In the early '60s, small pints of rotgut or fruit wines were substituted, and heavy petting was encouraged. By the time the love generation portion of that decade rolled around, life was one big Woodstock nation. No one needed a weeklong celebration of non-school rebellion when administration buildings were being blown up and school closing sit-ins were staged, complete with hash pipes and group sex. But somewhere around 1978 it all changed. Before then, dope smoke and the fast grope made a trip to the seashore in March seem acceptable. But once a movie called Animal House reestablished the enthusiasm for incessant intoxication via alcohol on college campuses throughout North America, Spring Break had to adapt. Of course, in the USA there was MADD (Mothers Against Drunken Debauchery) and SADD (Students Always Demanding Drink) and other spiked punch intolerant organizations controlling the chaos. Pressure was placed on local ale sponsored sock hops and rum supported rape fests. So along came the foreign frontiers, eager to make a name and a greenback or two for themselves. And all they did was pander to the wayward Western youth who wanted nothing more than to indulge in that forbidden fermented grain and contract as many third world STDs as possible. By 2000, the annual hedonistic trek to foreign lands to do body shots and sores was being recorded and packaged as a "caught on tape" travesty for a sleeping parental population to palpitate over.
In may ways, The Real Cancun is a rejection of the mindless adolescent in search of a cheap thrill and Jell-o shooters, and at the same time a gloriously trashy embrace of the let it all hang out, let's have fun mentality. It showcases the wanton self-indulgence that most college kids expect, nay demand from their Spring Break experience while providing a minor mirror into how these jazzed for Jack Daniels boozehounds feel about life, love, and getting liquored/licked up. But what this ersatz reality show style film is not is an accurate representation of the MTV void that spawned it. The Real Cancun is a million mediocre miles away from its televised relative. It's like a clip show version of that full-length fiasco with ADD. Under the circumstances of its creation (filmed for ten days while it "actually" happened, without re-shoots or scripting, and quickly cobbled together to make it into theaters), the fact that anything cognitive came out is amazing. But the reality is that part of the reason why the real thing Real World works is that the audience gets to live and grow with the houseguests over time. They learn their habits and hobbies. They learn about their loves and their losses. Hell, they learn their names. It's sad when a supposedly major motion picture like The Real Cancun is so devoid of basic storytelling skills that it can't even keep its cast straight. Two minutes of quick cut, odd angled introductions at the beginning without any setup fails to prepare us for the 16 strangers who then wander around their Mexican wonderland and slam tequila by the boatload. If it wasn't for emphasized idiosyncrasies (Alan won't drink!) or obvious racial factor (Paul and Jorell are black!), the whole group simply meshes into a one track minded mix of sex fiends.
The other flaw in The Real Cancun is the non-original notion that drinking and screwing with the added attraction of nudity and cursing will somehow overcome the substantial lack of drama or comedy created by the circumstances and/or cast. In the true Real World, dynamics both sympathetic and antagonistic are allowed to take root and blossom over weeks, not weekends. After all, most people are all false front and show when they initially meet and one seven-day experiment in close quarter living isn't going to change that very much. Some are more open. Alan, the lonely nerd, is constantly bearing his feeble feelings to any accidentally corralled housemate who will hear him out, but since all we know about this Texas troll is that he won't consider sipping a highball, we wonder how much of his sorrow and self-pity is the direct result of being constantly sober. Laura, the Fargo-accented tramp who tosses her cookies at Jeremy that first night in a fit of free spirited fornication, spends the rest of the vacation sitting around in a used and abused funk, wondering why the leering lothario has yet to place a down payment on their love life. Her confrontation of the insatiable satyr while he has his hand up another honey's haunches is the sole moment of real emotion in what is otherwise a movie of surfaces. Every issue, every concern or problem is all façade, the typical tantrums of Not Quite Ready for Prime Time Reality Players. Unlike its boob tube equivalent, which offered AIDS, homosexuality, and race as hot button provocation issues, The Real Cancun is only concerned with the confrontational properties of spiced rum drinks.
So what does that leave us with as an audience wanting to be entertained, to be given a peek behind the heretofore hidden world of college carousing during this mandatory malfeasant right of passage? Well, frankly, it leaves us with a lot of uneasy feelings and several unanswered questions. Oh sure, it's just mindless fun, a little steam release before the pressures of graduation and the real real world comes calling, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, because, by definition, young adults have not completely matured and are allowed a little leeway in destructive, decadent behavior. But the big no comes with the notion that nothing they do should be considered morally reprehensible, at least in their mind. If once a year the entire population of Silicon Valley went wild and partied like Rome was burning, complete with wet T-shirt strip shows and binge drinking contests, we'd huff and puff and hang our head in communal shame. But matriculating members of society are championed for such nonsensical behavior, even going so far as to have this movie (and other more slanderous DVD nudie presentations) made about it. For every 20/20 style investigative report highlighting the death wish style Alcohomocidal nature of this other, much more malevolent, March madness, there is an interview or testimony with some clueless parent or participant that actually excuses the excess as just another of life's little learning experiences. The fact that somewhere between the World Wars and the New Millennial Order that vaginal dripping and vodka baths became acceptable ways of expressing one's youthful nature is just plain sad.
Still, the questions linger. Tough qualms, like just when did men get this stupid and vain? In a far less tolerant time, say about twenty months ago, guys this gaga over the way they looked, grooming body hairs and greasing their groins to within an inch of their bikini area, would have got their ass kicked, not worshiped (sad, but true). Apparently, in their drive to defeat chauvinism once and for all, the female of the species has decided that the only good man is a hot as Hades great looking one. Forget financial or emotional stability, just give the New Woman a blistering six-pack and a curvy rump and they'll endure anything, from insensitivity to borderline physical abuse. It's clear from The Real Cancun that the overly buff butt buddies Matt, Jeremy, and Casey have no problem procuring bed bunnies for the night. It's the sad sack Alan and the pleasantly plump Jorell who seem to be spending the majority of their time in dateless and undaunted discussion. This leads to another inquiry, one along the lines of when did women get this super slutty? There was once an age when the feminine set protected their lady-like nature to the utmost, refusing to trade their virtue for a small sampling of vice. Not in 2003. In this Stayfree and easy era, girls are coaxed to "go wild" and let their "puppies breathe." And since the introduction of silicone to the side profile, the future mothers of America are more than happy to expose their man-enhanced mammary glands for all the video cameras to tape. Along with Sex and the City style horniness, which mandates that they copulate with as many people as possible (gender is non-specific) within a waking period, today's modern Miss feels far too comfortable in her newfound role as a risqué revolving rod rider.
And this highlights the real issue with The Real Cancun, a problem of ever increasing magnitude, which can be summed up in the following manner: Exactly when did society shun shame and responsibility for one's actions? Everywhere in this movie are people of all ages acting socially inappropriate and morally reprehensible. Men are using women and the dames is begging for it. Safe sex, as practiced by the participants, means avoiding the insertion of sharp objects…usually. Outrageous amounts of underage drinking occurs and girls (as well as guys) are being asked to make like Blaze Starr for the sake of some misguided idea of body type worship as entertainment. Sure, this all sounds like the sour sensitivities of a cowardly curmudgeon, someone who's long forgotten what it was like to be young, cranking with unfulfilled hormones, and blasted on near beer. But that does not excuse The Real Cancun from what it is and isn't. What it is not is an entertaining or enticing movie. It has too many continuity and creative flaws to work as a narrative overview of the Spring Break ritual and those who participate in it. What it is, though, is a pseudo historical document, a telling tidbit for the time capsule which will help to explain to future generations just when their world went to hell in a halter top. For more than one reason, the participants of The Real Cancun should be ashamed of themselves. But the reality is, personal indignity is the farthest thought from their mind. Hoping to host the updated MTV's The Grind is.
Since The Real Cancun was a movie shot on video and then transferred to film, the natural complaint would be that the original stock elements make the transition to celluloid unsuccessfully and that the resulting DVD image suffers as well. That is not the case here. New Line releases the movie in a stunning 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation that highlights and accentuates the natural beauty of this part of Mexico. However, the movie would have looked even better had the original taped video material been directly transferred to DVD. In some of the behind the scenes bonus material, the pre-processed footage is shown and it really looks exceptional. Sonically, this MTV produced product, complete with a hit parade of overplayed soundtrack songs, is very good. In either Dolby Digital 5.1 (which adds a small amount of ambiance) or 2.0 Surround (which allows the music to totally dominate), the aural atmosphere is fine. There is some bonus content included as well, but it's all rather non-involving. The deleted scenes showcase a couple of forgotten cast members (Brittany and Fletch arguing over the word "skank"—go figure) and the cast insights allow each participant a chance to air out their gripes and/or opinions of each other's "issues." The trailers and TV spots are pointlessly redundant, but the premiere material is somewhat fun, considering the cast had to react, spur of the moment right there on the red carpet, to a film they admit they haven't yet seen. A few moments later they are then asked to offer off the cuff comments about the cinematic character assassination they just witnessed. Watching them search for non-confrontational ways of waxing poetic and pathetic in the most enjoyment you'll get out of the overall Real Cancun DVD package.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The Real Cancun is not all that bad. It's like a Cliff's Notes version of the television show with only the sex and sin underlined. If you enjoy the slapdash soap opera that MTV moves from city to city in an obvious attempt to avoid entertainment extradition laws, this mini-me clone will be your cup of tea. And let's face it, gents—Spring Break is all about the boobies. Those of you who are interested in seeing a little college age carnality but have yet do reduce yourself to buying a Girls Gone Gay DVD experience (even the one with Snoop—dang!) will get at least part of your pulchritude pleasures from this sometimes skin flick. Probably the most bizarre aspect of the mammary presentation though, is the lack of those over elasticized dirty pillows that have become all the self-esteem raising rage. We get to see lots of members of the itty bitty titty club, but those mouth mashing medically enhanced mounds seem mostly out of shot. Maybe MTV has some new editorial standard which argues that nude and natural is the way to go. Or maybe most of the enhanced honeys wised up and refused to sign the release. Either way, while those glory glands are missed, they are not disruptive to the overall Real Cancun experience. There are enough night vision infra-red images of bed sheets doing the loll and shim to satisfy your porn proclivities, and just when you think it won't happen, innocent babes in the woods types drop their top and make you all tingly inside. The Real Cancun may not be much of a movie, but it sure works as a Pre-K "Caught on Tape" experience.
For what it's worth, it's good that a movie like The Real Cancun can shed light on the blight of Alcohomocidal Syndrome and expose its pissed off prissy punters to the world once and for all. It's important to note that there is nothing wrong with the occasional recreational beverage, a life in longing pursuit of the same sex, or an intensely anti-social attitude. But when each or all become an overbearing badge of dishonor, one worn without thought as to why or what it means, then the whole enterprise becomes pointless. Maybe it's a little mean spirited to consider today's generation of leaders nothing more than morally bankrupt provocateurs, attempting the most extreme forms of rebellion in response to a life unchallenged by adult mandated limits. After all, when anything you do is excused by absentee guardians who just feel lucky to have fulfilled their portion of the social contract by procreating, what's there left to do but adopt a totally angry alternative alcoholic lifestyle? No one should wonder why college kids binge drink; they should wonder why they don't make it part of the SAT. The desire to experiment with sexuality should not be met with astonishment but nonchalance, since like those Dune action figures they had to have when they were ten, gayness will get tossed back into the closet by your experimenting offspring after its worn out its wildness. Anger, unfortunately, seems like it's here to stay. After all, when the world surrounds you with mediocre reality based programming like Road Rules or The Real Cancun, it gets progressively harder to keep one's ire in check. Spring Break may have turned into an amoral pit of despair, but leave it to MTV to try and find yet another way of marketing this misery to the world. Like TRL wasn't bad enough.
The Real Cancun is found guilty of being a vacuous, silly, and certifiably awful excuse for a motion picture and is sentenced to grow the hell up, pronto. Said sentence is suspended and The Real Cancun is remanded to the Juvenile Section of Hack Filmmakers Prison until such time as it's learned its lesson, or understands the errant error of its ways.
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