Spring Break On The Lens: The Real Cancun (dir by Rick de Oliveira)

Remember The Real Cancun?

This 2003 film tells the story of 16 good-looking and not particularly intelligent college students who go to Cancun for spring break.  For 8 days, they all live in the same beach house and they get to know each other.  They drink.  They flirt.  A few of them hook up but perhaps not as many as you would expect.  The dorky virgin dude says that he just wants to see “boobies” and then gets drunk off of one shot.  Two platonic friends debate whether they should take their relationship to the next level.  The women wear bikinis.  The men wear speedos.  There are bare boobs and behinds galore.  Snoop Dogg makes a special guest appearance.  One spring breaker get stung by a jelly fish so her new roommate pours a cup of urine on her ankle.  Good thing he had already had ten beers that morning!  What fun!

If this sounds like a typical spring break film, that’s because it is a typical spring break film but with one big difference.  It was produced by the people behind MTV’s The Real World and, as such, the 16 spring breakers are sold as being real people who are spontaneously acting like a bunch of movie characters.  In 2003, reality tv was still a relatively exotic concept and this film was an attempt to take the genre’s cheap aesthetic to the cinematic level.  Even more importantly, it was an attempt to duplicate the success of Girls Gone Wild, without actually admitting to being inspired by that sleazy enterprise.  As such, there’s a lot of nudity but there’s a strange lack of actual sex.  There’s a lot of drinking but there’s not much drunkenness.  It’s an oddly tame look at spring break, one that promises debauchery but which doesn’t deliver anything that would have kept the film out of theaters or off the cable networks.  I got more wild on my spring breaks than anyone in this film and I don’t even drink.

The film’s “stars” are all pretty bland and it’s not a surprise that, with one exception, none of them have appeared in anything other than The Real Cancun.  (That one exception is Laura Ramsey, who went on to have a somewhat busy acting career after appearing as herself in this film.)  The film manages to make nudity boring.  Seen today, The Real Cancun works best as a time capsule, largely because it was filmed at a time when there was no social media and, even more importantly, no phones.  Everyone is attracted to the crew and their bulky film cameras because there aren’t any other cameras around to record them and make them famous.  Today, anyone can make their own Real Cancun and post it to YouTube.  In 2003, if you wanted a shot at that type of fame, you had to audition and be selected to appear in a “documentary.”

Apparently, The Real Cancun was meant to be the first part of a Real World cinematic franchise.  The first Jackass film had come out the previous year so MTV was enthusiastic about producing cheap reality movies.  However, The Real Cancun was such a huge flop at the box office that it killed those plans.  There would be other Jackass films, of course.  But the Real World Cinematic Universe imploded as soon as it began.  And for that, we should probably be thankful.

4 responses to “Spring Break On The Lens: The Real Cancun (dir by Rick de Oliveira)

  1. You have chosen a real oddity to review – it was indeed an attempt to take a successful TV franchise and move it to theaters but as you note, so ill-conceived and executed that it was a massive flop and ended that dream forever! As always, your review are insightful and entertaining to read, in this case much more so than the film!


  2. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 3/7/22 — 3/13/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

  3. Pingback: Spring Break on the Lens: Laserblast (dir by Michael Rae) | Through the Shattered Lens

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