November 21, 2004

This is Spinal Tap

Twenty years ago I saw this film for the first time, and I was not too familiar then with improvisational comedy. I think I was only slightly aware that this film was a spoof. I remember being finally convinced when I heard the comment about the band's appearance at the "Isle of Lucy" festival.

I had my second viewing last night and liked it even better this time. Now, having become familiar with this troupe via their other films: Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind, etc. I was able to appreciate even more the way this group plays off of each other. I think Spinal Tap needed Eugene Levy playing the band manager, although he probably would have had a difficult time with the British accent.

IFC showed a little documentary about the film before this showing and I didn't know how really cutting edge Spinal Tap was. They had a hell of a time selling it. Nobody wanted to take a chance on improvisational dialog and their general approach.

For me the best parts of this film are the stage shots. I saw Black Sabbath circa 1980 or so, and I think they may have used that Sabbath tour for their parodies. Sabbath had all kinds of stage props and heavy metal silliness. Of course the kids loved it. I was a little past teen age but I still enjoyed the show. And like Mighty Wind, the songs they wrote for this are hilarious.

During the documentary the film editor said that the original edit of This is Spinal Tap was six and a half hours long! I must find the DVD to see how many of the deleted scenes are on it. The deleted scenes on the Waiting for Guffman DVD are at least as good as what went into the film.

Perhaps Guest, McKean, Shearer & Co. should now do a sequel. Parodying a washed up rock band reuniting for the sake of paying off their dealers and ex-wives would be like taking candy from a baby for these guys now. Picture it. All with the same hair, only gray. (Shearer's mustache would be really funny in gray.) Still with their little mannerisms flicking the hair out of their faces. Various monologues about how some fans still follow their every move, and what it's like being a member of Spinal Tap.

All they would have to do is visit a Lynyrd Skynyrd tour to get their ideas.

Posted by Wayne at November 21, 2004 03:16 PM

this film kicks ass, gets better with each viewing. if you've seen decline of western civilization: the metal years, you can see that some of the real bands were even more demented then the guys in this spoof! keep up the good work!

Posted by: bill chinaski at November 22, 2004 08:20 PM

There's a scene where you see Guest and McKean with similar sores on their mouths. When I first saw the film I assumed this indicated that they were more than just good friends. But according to them, they intended to mean that they had been sleeping with the same groupies. One of them said that only those of us in California would have made that assumption. But everyone I know had the same reaction.

I never did get the "Isle of Lucy" reference.

Posted by: Ken Dix at November 23, 2004 08:04 PM

I remember the scene with the sores on their mouths. I'm not from California (I'm a red stater) so it didn't occur to me that they might be involved with each other. I love the so-subtle-that-it's-easily-missed humor in the films by this group.

isle of lucy = I Love Lucy

I'm now married to a woman named Lucy so that one was prophetic for me.

Posted by: Wayne at November 23, 2004 11:14 PM

Well, it's now confirmed, Californians are weird. But we're like the fish in the ocean: we don't know we're in water.

I Love Lucy. I figured it would be something real obvious.

Posted by: Ken Dix at November 24, 2004 12:08 PM

This movie is amazing. It's still funny today to someone who's never seen it. They were pioneers in comedy, SO many people have their comedic style inspired by this film. So many sketches and films use the gags that these guys use in this film. Damn I wish I had the Criterion version!

needle anus

Posted by: Needle Anus at May 17, 2005 01:07 PM
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