Thursday, August 25, 2011

This Is Spinal Tap (Reiner. 1984)

"These go to eleven...."


Rock and roll seems like something that takes itself far too seriously. As most of us know, in the 1980's America had an fluctuation of what are now known as "hair bands". These groups were famously less concerned about the artistic direction of their music and more about the women, money and image that accompanied fame. Though it almost seemed like some of these bands were actually mocking themselves, it did not take long for the comedy team of Christopher Guest and Rob Reiner to come up with one of the funniest screenplay ideas of the entire decade with This Is Spinal Tap.

Spinal Tap is a hair metal band that has agreed to allow a superfan, Marty DiBergi (Reiner), to document their lives and processes. Shot in the now famous Christopher Guest mock-umentary style, this is a film that captures a very specific aspect of comedy. With little remorse for the feelings of the actual bands being parodied, Spinal Tap made the audience laugh by using the "you were all thinking it" brand of humor. Whether you love the big hair decade's musical outputs or not, it is pretty apparent that making fun is warranted. The things we see and hear from Spinal Tap are right out of the book for many existing and successful rock bands. The movie looks like real life.

And real life is what This Is Spinal Tap became. This is the fist time that we see the hilarious trio of Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean doing what they do the very best. They became their characters and sported looks to match the ridiculous, pretentious and meaningless things that they were saying. As the band hits some rough patches, DiBergi's camera is able to show us what we are not supposed to be seeing. This is the footage that every episode of Behind the Music wishes they had. It is made hilarious by how oblivious to the joke that the cast seems to be.

Another thing that makes the film work is that the subject matter has become such a romanticized aspect of the 80's that everyone will forever get the jokes. We as moviegoers are familiar with what the cast is making fun of with This Is Spinal Tap. Everything from ridiculous hair metal lyrics to outlandish costumes and sophomoric sexual innuendo is shown in a strangely satirical and intellectual frame. This Is Spinal Tap is a furiously immature film from its content, but it is so well crafted with sharp and recognizable satire that it comes off as ingenious comedy.

My favorite thing about this movie is the music. Yes, Spinal Tap is an under-talented rock band with an inability to sell tickets in the movie, but their music has stood the test of time. Spinal Tap (a FICTIONAL band from a movie) was so well received musically that the three comedians have been awarded Grammy's and have had national tours. They were even named the 75th greatest artist of hard rock by a VH1 special series. This was a better ranking than actual hard rock acts like The Misfits, Tool, Marilyn Manson and King Crimson.

With This Is Spinal Tap, Guest and Reiner managed to create a believable mythos that has carried on past their mockumentary. This is a hilarious movie that is good for a laugh in any mood.

This Is Spinal Tap: A-

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