Monday, September 28, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: This is Spinal Tap (1984)

Surprisingly, This is Spinal Tap merely enjoyed modest success during its theatrical run before landing a cult following on home video.  Over time, it has become an iconic parody and the make believe band of the title has actually sold a lot of records and played a lot of shows.  The film hasn't lost its power to amuse thanks to all the keen wit on display, and the music industry has only grown more and more absurd, so the picture remains timely.  Rob Reiner's actual direction of this mockumentary and his performance as director Marty DiBergi are both rock solid, but the leads (Michael McKeen as lead singer David St. Hubbins, Christopher Guest as guitarist Nigel Tufnel, and Harry Shearer as bassist Derek Smalls) are so superb that I have to give them the lion's share of the credit for the movie's success.  All three are capable musicians and they are beyond perfect choices for the film--it's an adequate tribute to their efforts that this ridiculous comedy led to genuine confusion among many fans as to whether or not Spinal Tap was a real band.  This is Spinal Tap is so awesome that it is damn near impossible to pick the funniest part.  Is it the amp that goes to 11?  Is it Derek getting trapped in his pod?  Is it the Stonehenge set?  Is it being billed second to the puppets?  What about the woeful legacy of the band's drummers?  I'm sure that every fan has a favorite part, mine just might be that perspective-laden trip to Graceland, though I'm also rather fond of the big show at the military base.  In fact, there are so many amusing sequences that This is Spinal Tap never seems to fall flat, and even the few bits that don't work are often saved by one of the brilliant performances.  I'm a fan of silly comedies and rock and roll, so my affection for this one should come as no surprise.  Still, I think it is fair to say that That This is Spinal Tap's greatness extends well beyond any niche or niches--it's not just a good comedy, it's a remarkable comedy.

Final Grade: 11 (A+)

This is Spinal Tap is one of the best comedies ever, and it is
a must-see for anyone who enjoys a good laugh or rock and roll.

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