Cast & Crew
Director : Albert Brooks
Producer : Penelope Spheeris
Screenwriter : Albert Brooks, Monica Mcgowan Johnson, Harry Shearer,
Starring : Dick Haynes, Albert Brooks, Matthew Tobin, J.A. Preston, Joseph Schaffler, Charles Grodin, Frances Lee McCain,
Albert Brooks' directorial debut is at once a glimpse of the odd, uneven work the filmmaker/actor would later produce and a sendup of reality TV, a genre which in 1979 barely even existed. The film is a mockumentary of the making of a mockumentary (whoa, meta), with Brooks deciding to emulate the success of An American Family, the first "reality" program, which tracked, well, an American family over their daily lives. But Brooks messes with the genre from the start, spouting pseudoscience about how the filmmakers found their test subjects (led by a spot-on Charles Grodin), then later fights with the studio who wants to see Paul Newman or James Caan play a housekeeper in the film-within-a-film. Some of these moments work, some are just Brooks hamming it up to the point of self-mockery. If only he'd waited another 25 years to make this movie, he might have had more to work with.