Saturday, January 25, 2014

248 of 1001 Movies: This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

Growing up in a home where music from the early 80's was played frequently, especially 80's rock, it would have been difficult to not at least hear the name Spinal Tap at one point or another because for a spoof band they became quite popular. Rob Reiner also show cases his ability to put together a crafty movie early on with witty, funny, dialogue, and a mockumentary that captures the time well even if it was just intending the mock the whole idea of it. The movie though can be just as appealing to people who are into this type of music because it never does it in a way that feels demeaning either.

Summary: It's 1982 and Spinal Tap is planning a U.S. tour that they hope will be their comeback. With their manager able to get them into some pretty high profile locations this tour is shaping up to be something good. Fan and documentary maker, Marty DiBergi, is also given the chance to follow the band through their tour and interview them. He captures every moment from the friction of a girlfriend arriving on tour, to Nigel and David's longtime friendship, right up to the point they find that something better might await them than an American comeback.

Acting: The actors are real musicians as they did reunite to play some shows later after the movie happened, but they are also good actors. These guys really get into their roles as rock musicians. Christopher Guest is Nigel, perhaps my favorite of the group. His comedy roles the most natural with the narrative and character. Almost everything he says comes off funny just because he has the ability to balance what looks like a serious situation with just how stupid what is being said is. Michael McKean is David, Nigel's best friend, and he's a nice balance to Nigel because you can't have every character like that, and even though he appears to have a little more intellect he's just as odd. Appropriately, Rob Reiner is the documentary maker, Marty. Reiner works great with the movie because he really looks like he is interviewing the guys seriously, and the way he looks at them as they respond adds to the comedy. Harry Shearer is Derek, he is a guy in the movie who is also in the band, and he adds good moments as well. There is even an appearance from Fred Willard in the movie as well.

Filming: The movie is shot in documentary style as if it is really real. I wonder if there were some people who ended up believing it was real at first? Reiner though works in bits that are funny, but also not in your face to the point where the comedy is forced. Everything is so in documentary mode that you could imagine these people really taking themselves that seriously. If it hadn't been for the shots, or the way that Reiner ends up capturing expressions then this movie wouldn't have went over nearly as popular as it got. I just can't believe this was the same guy who directed The Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally.

Plot: The plot centers around a U.S. tour for a British band looking to have a comeback. They have been around the 60's, and from what the movie depicts they are basically willing to do whatever music is popular at the time to catch some fans and money. I think all the characters are actually well established in the movie as well, and there isn't one who feels like a weak part of the cast, and even the drummer has this part you get involved in with. Every character has a comedic part to add as well, and so it provides everything from the witty to the crazy for comedy. What is perfection about the plot is how everyone seems to take themselves seriously, and they do it well, while the comedy is put in with wit into the movie.

This is Spinal Tap is a movie I worry could get lost on my generation. I don't remember knowing anyone growing up who watched this unless you were apart of my parents' generation. Maybe it's because people feel you need to enjoy this type of music to watch the movie, or at the very least know something about it, but honestly this movie can be funny without that. It's well written and directed. Plus, the actors portray their characters as real people without giving that fake vibe to it.

Rating 8.5 of 10.

This Is Spinal Tap (1984) on IMDb

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