A MIGHTY WIND (2003) 

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Christopher Guest
Eugene Levy
Michael McKean
Bob Balaban
Catherine O'Hara
Michael Baser
Ed Begley Jr.
John Michael Higgins
Michael Hitchcock
Jane Lynch
Parker Posey

Christopher Guest




Time: 87 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy/Musical

Academy Award nomination for Best Song.

Guest and company hit another comedy home run with this send-up of folk music that kept me laughing from start to finish. This basic plot for this mockumentary has the folk genres leading acts – The Folksmen, The New Main Street Singers and Mitch & Mickey – reuniting for a memorial concert to honor their agent Irving Steinbloom who recently passed away. His children, led by eldest son Jonathan (Balaban), have a mere two weeks to gather the talent and put on this tribute show. Not an easy task considering that none of the acts have played together in over 20 years and at least one of them – Mitch Cohen (Levy) – can barely remember his own name. As in his previous two films (Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show), Guest uses an interview/documentary style to introduce the various characters to the audience and move the story along.

Not that there's much of a plot to speak of. The sheer volume of players included – it seems that everyone Guest has ever worked with has a part – doesn't allow much time for depth of exposition or characterization. Both his other productions had an underlying passion driving the story (to make it to Broadway or win the blue ribbon), which gave those films energy and heart. You wanted those people to succeed in their lives and empathized with their dreams. While WIND has moments that are just as funny, it lacks the pathos to be truly great. Though I laughed at them all, especially Fred Willard, I never felt connected to any of the characters. They aren't given enough time to really make them into full-blooded human beings. Most of them have a great backstory about how they found folk music or how it found them, which is worth the price of admission, but then, with the exception of Levy and O'Hara, don't get to add much more.

The crux of the film centers on whether Mitch will actually participate in the concert. To get him to agree to play with Mickey, after their highly acrimonious break-up, is Jonathan Steinbloom's greatest challenge. Though he swears to Mitch that he was his father's favorite, one can't help but wonder how many other people he told that to in order to gain their acquiescence. As wacky, disoriented and monosyllabic as Mitch is, I never once believed that he would flake out, which is the film's main problem. I think I would have enjoyed the experience more if he had. It would have given the proceedings a touch of reality and more of a reason to care. Plus, for a film about a concert, there just wasn't enough music. In THIS IS SPINAL TAP, the song lyrics provided many of that films biggest laughs and I was hoping for something similar here. The soundtrack includes a number of tunes not featured in the film and that's a real shame. There's a real energy between the players when they're singing that adds to the film's vibe and in this case more would have been better.

While WIND doesn't exactly chart new territory or break from Guest's usual style, it is still a highly entertaining vehicle that will make most people laugh out loud. Nobody lampoons a genre with more wit, class and abandon than this diverse group of improv actors. Though I wasn't at all disappointed, I can only hope their next film takes their collective creativity and cranks it up to eleven.

"There was abuse in my family, but it was mostly musical in nature."

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