|THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984)|
|"As long as there's, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the rock and roll."|
|Time: 82 mins.|
Official Web Site
There are those people who have never seen THIS IS SPINAL TAP and those that have seen it over and over again. I happen to fall into the latter group and am appalled that there are people in this world who have not experienced the joy of watching this film. With it's upcoming re-release on DVD imminent, now is the time to rejoice in the silliness that is TAP. In his directorial debut, Reiner takes the "rockumentary" platform to a whole different level. The film follows the British rock band Spinal Tap on their brand new American tour. Though the actors play it straight, the effect is pure, unadulterated hilarity, as they go through one absurd situation after another on the road to obscurity. If it wasn't so damn funny, you'd think it was real. You've heard singers and songwriters spout similar esoteric mumbo jumbo, throw the same type of tantrums, so the characters and their actions don't seem all that unbelievable. Until you really think about it...and then start laughing.
I'm not sure when I first saw SPINAL TAP, probably in college, but I try to watch it at least once a year for shits and giggles. The exploits of Nigel, Derek and David are always funny and you find new things to laugh about with every viewing. Reiner not only directs, but also stars in the film as Marty DiBergi, the rockumentary's director. The film tells the story of the tour via interviews with the band members, behind the scenes footage and actual on-stage performances. The songs used in the film were written by Guest, McKean and Shearer and have titles like Hell Hole, Big Bottom, Sex Farm and Stonehedge. Lest you think these actors are faking, you'll be surprised to see them singing and playing. They actually went on tour with the film's songs to help create their rock star personas.
As the film opens, they're all excited about touring America for their new album "Smell the Glove." They are booked into arenas and are looking forward to performing. However, as the tour progresses things start to get ugly. They aren't getting the respect or crowds they think they deserve. Their manager is barely holding things together, David's girlfriend is getting in the way (a nice Yoko dig), their stage show is turned into a joke due to measurement mix-up and they can't seem to keep their drummers from dying. They have amps that "go to 11," stuff their trousers with vegetables to impress the fans and get into mischief at every turn. They are the spoiled children posing as talented musicians. With quotes like "We've got armadillos in our trousers," I dare you not to laugh.
Guest and McKean are the backbone of the film and really make you believe their characters are real. How they actually got through the filming without busting a gut every time someone opened their mouth I don't know. They are so earnest and deadpan that it seems like they're actually really musicians. There's only one scene where McKean cracks a smile and you know he broke up the minute they yelled cut. It is due to the talent of these two men that this film works at all. It does get rather slow in points, especially as the band begins to breakdown and splinter. However, it's still the funniest 82 minutes ever committed to film. What's amazing, is that even though this is a fictitious band, the music is fantastic with lyrics to die for. They may seem outrageous and over the top, but have you ever paused to actually listen to hair metal lyrics? They are only slightly less silly then the songs TAP plays. You won't find a more original, funny or intelligently written satire out there. THIS IS SPINAL TAP is a must for any film lover's collection.