Saturday, August 27, 2005

This is Spinal Tap (1984)

Starring Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, et al
Rated R, 82 minutes

“A hilarious comedy.” “Brilliant.” “The best cult classic ever.”

Yeah, I disagree. Here’s the rundown. Spinal Tap (McKean, Guest, Shearer and a few hangers on) are a once-popular British band who are coming back to America after a five year gap to promote their new album “Smell the Glove.” The movie, shot documentary style, chronicles this tour as well as giving us their entire biography and a look into their day-to-day life.

What everybody says is brilliant about this movie is how its dry humor succeeds in big ways. I felt that a lot of the movie was played too straight. It was taken soooo seriously, that a joke was lost. And I think its humor is just lost to the sands of time. After this movie was made, we had hair bands…many years later we had “Behind the Music” – all kind of taking away from the jokes in this film.

A lot of their over the top antics, which I guess are supposed to be hilarious, actually happened. Maybe at the time it was fresh and funny, but asking for bigger bread is a lot more reasonable than having a roadie remove all the brown M & Ms or something. The truth is stranger than fiction here, and it hurts the movie. Likewise, we got in the heads of bands with shows like “Behind the Music” and again, it’s a lot stranger and a comedy-within-a-truth like this movie tried to be.

Just to give you even more perspective on this, I liked the songs. Not because they were funny; to me they sounded like viable driving music…good rock.

Not withstanding, I loved the scenes with Paul Shaffer and Fred Willard...the infamous Stonehenge scene…things like this had the right amount of irony and comedy to pull me out of the “documentary” and into a place where I could be laughing. And oddly enough, the credits are backed by a lot of moments that are funnier than those in the movie. Maybe it’s by contrast – the movie was so stiff and boring, whereas these moments were irreverent and silly. That’s what the main program needed.


…of 5. I mean, I wanted it to live up to the hype. The opening DVD menu with the band talking about how black the screen was, and how small the title was – that was hilarious and it had me laughing at loud. But most of it had me just sitting there, not even cracking a smile. Perhaps if I saw it in its own time, it would’ve gotten more stars.

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