Albert Brooks made his feature-length debut as a writer and director with this wickedly funny satire, in which Albert Brooks plays "Albert Brooks," an arrogant and self-centered comedian who has decided to make a documentary film. Following the lead of the infamous pre-Real World PBS series An American Family (in which a "typical" family was filmed during most of their waking hours and eventually self-destructed on camera), Brooks moves in with the Yeager family of Phoenix, Arizona and chronicles their lives, with the support of a battery of psychiatrists and sociologists. He arrives at the Yeagers' doorstep with a two-man crew, wearing high-tech cameras that look like space helmets from a grade-B sci-fi movie, and it quickly becomes obvious that he is incapable of being unobtrusive. The Yeagers are driven to distraction by Brooks, who repeatedly ignores the advice of his team of experts and wishes there were some way to make the family's life more interesting (leading to perhaps the least expected homage to Gone With the Wind in film history). Of all Brooks' features, Real Life most resembles his cutting but deadpan short subjects for Saturday Night Live; Brooks never fails to cast himself in an unflattering light, and the supporting cast does admirable work in reacting to him, especially Charles Grodin and Lee McCain as Mr. and Mrs. Yeager. Harry Shearer contributed to the screenplay and plays a small role.
by Mark Deming synopsis