This is Spinal Tap (1984)



Filmmaker Martin Di Bergi (Rob Reiner) does a documentary about Spinal Tap, a fictional British band, as they embark on their first U.S. tour in 6 years promoting a new album.  What follows is 80 minutes of brutally honest, unforgiving, improvised genius.

This film seems longer than 80 minutes, but it works and at the end I enjoy the fact that I haven’t had to sit watch and wait through 2 to 3 hours.  Taking away or adding anything to this film would probably hurt the overall performance.

As he hosted the cast of The Simpsons for an episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio, James Lipton mentioned that This is Spinal Tap was one of the funniest movies he had ever seen when he addressed Harry Shearer.  This is a movie that seems timeless and great because it’s etched in this time period and truly reflective of music and the ups and downs of touring and promoting for big-name bands.  Also since many of the lines were ad-libs from the cast, there’s an element of realism that just can’t happen with a specific script.

There are too many great lines and scenes in this film to nail down just one as a favorite.  The airport security scene and Nigel (Christopher Guest) with his amp that goes to 11 are two of them that have always stuck out a little more than the others for me.  The fun and over-the-topness of this movie is one of the things that makes it great.

I did a little research online and found that a number of band members from heavy metal and rock bands had thought This is Spinal Tap was more or less a tribute to them.  Many of the antics: getting lost backstage, issues with the catering and whatnot, had happened to them.

This is Spinal Tap works great as a mock-rockumentary that touches on many common themes for bands in this time period, and entertains its specific audience.  It’s enjoyable to watch, but I always try to put a good chunk of time between viewings.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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