Tag Archives: Christopher Guest

Weekend Film Recommendation: This is Spinal Tap (1984)

5 Aug

If you are a fan of heavy metal, rock music in general, or improvisational comedy, this film’s for you. If you haven’t already seen this movie and you love any of those things, I would actually question your credibility. Even if you don’t like any of those things, it can be equally humorous to see that culture spoofed in what is widely considered of the greatest comedies of all time.

This is Spinal Tap is a mockumentary about the fake British heavy metal Spinal Tap (played brilliantly by Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer) on their comeback tour. Their previous success has been eclipsed by their huge egos and an amateur filmmaker (Rob Reiner) is capturing their downward spiral in a hilarious commentary of the heavy metal culture.

While the movie is funny enough in and of itself, what adds to it is that most of the dialogue was ad-libbed, much like many of other films that followed from Christopher Guest and company (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind). Not only that, but Guest and McKean wrote all the songs for the band and everyone in the band is actually performing on their respective instruments on the soundtrack. Even though everyone in the film made up most of their own dialogue, only Guest, McKean, Shearer and Reiner received writing credit despite their best efforts to convince the Writer’s Guild Board of Directors otherwise.

Entertainment Weekly ranked this as the #1 Cult Film of All Time and Premiere voted this the #1 Comedy of All Time in 2006. You will find several references to this film throughout pop culture, mostly when talking about music, or anything for that matter, being “cranked to 11”. There are plenty of outstanding things to say about it and I was pretty sure most everyone had seen it, but recently I would mention it and several people said they hadn’t, so that’s why I am including it as a Weekend Film Recommendation.

Here is the trailer:

To add This is Spinal Tap to your Netflix Instant Queue, click here. If you get the DVD version instead, there is a commentary track that features the band doing the commentary and is considered one of the best DVD commentaries around.