This is Spinal Tap: Because We've Got Armadillos in Our Trousers

Hello!  I'm off my crazy work schedule, so you can expect me to be updating this far more frequently.  The next film on our list is This is Spinal Tap, a 1984 mockumentary, which is very nearly as often quoted as Monty Python.  Which is a lot.  Almost too much.  Really.  It comes in at a rock star worthy 357.

Marty DiBergi (played by director Rob Reiner) is a filmmaker who has decided to create a documentary on Spinal Tap, the loudest rock band in history.  This group is clearly about a half step away from a touching Where Are They Now special on VH1, but they still see themselves as big stars.  Unfortunately, they've embarked on a pretty pathetic US tour, where venues keep cancelling them, monuments of Stonehenge are in danger of being crushed by dwarves, people give Nigel small bread, and instead of getting seven suites, they get one suite on the seventh floor. (Fret not though, it does have a king leisure bed.)

Meanwhile, lead singer David has brought along his girlfriend Yoko Janine, who quickly alienates the rest of the band by introducing new KISS-like makeup based on the signs of the Zodiac and just generally being an annoying twunt.  And then she decides that she should be band manager.

And the band pretty much implodes from there.

OK, so there's really not that much of a plot going on there.  It's just a fake documentary about a band completely oblivious to their own irrelevance.  Let's skip ahead to the random musings, shall we?  Yes we shall.

Random Musings: compiling my random musings, I ran the risk of quoting about 3/4s of this film, because it's freaking hilarious and ridiculously quotable.  In the interest of not typing out the entire script here, I will limit myself to the top five funny quotes from this movie.

1. "It's like, how much more black could this be?  And the answer is none.  None...more black."  Oh Nigel, I wish I had your way with words.

2. Underappreciated hysterical moment #27: Nigel's meltdown over the mini sandwiches.  "But then everything has to be folded, and then you have...this.  And I don't want this, I want...large bread!"

3.  "There's such a fine line between stupid and clever." Yes there is, Spinal Tap.  Yes there as.  Actually, that's the most accurate summation of this film I've ever heard.

4.  "Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year, it's just not widely reported." - Derek Smalls, matter-of-factly discussing the extraordinary turnover of Spinal Tap drummers, due to a series of mysterious freak accidents.

5. "They are treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry." "Well, that's nitpicking, isn't it?" Classic.

  • First of all, kudos to Michael McKean and Christopher Guest for their rock star vocals.  Actually pretty impressive.  Reminds me of what my dad was probably listening to in the 70s.

  • I love the video footage showing the Spinal Tap at different stages in their career - first with the early Beatles-esque number, then the hippie flower power song, complete with the oh-so-cutting-edge psychadelic visuals.

  • Oh dear sweet Jesus can Fran Drescher please exit the film stage left?  She kind of makes my ears bleed.

  • Did Billy Crystal just pop out of nowhere and say, "Come on, mime is money?"  I think my heart just smiled a little bit.  Totally worth the price of admission.

  • I love how the band members have cold sores on their mouths at varying points in the film.

  • I think that one of the most interesting aspects of the film is that they are actually pretty talented musicians.  I like the song All the Way Home that they wrote when they were little, and then Chris Guest has that piano piece he was working on.  Sure, he named it Lick My Love Pump, but it's still pretty good!

  • Everyone laughs at the 11 line - but what about the bit where Nigel insists that Marty listen to the sustain on his guitar...while he's not playing it.

  • As silly as these guys are, I kind of feel bad for them.  It's sad to see the band as they crash and burn.  And I'm genuinely uncomfortable when they're at the record store for a signing event and literally no one shows up.  Sad times at Ridgemont High.  Despite that, this is will never stop being amusing to me:

  • I love the guys trying to harmonize at Elvis' grave.  It's a little too much fucking perspective.

  • Stonehenge.  Oh, Stonehenge.

  • I love how the bass player is the most rational and level-headed member of the band.  Because I'm pretty sure that's how it usually works in real life.


Did anyone else NOT realize that Christopher Guest is a baron/married to Jamie Lee Curtis?  Where the f was I???

So, my friends, this is Spinal Tap.  Aside from being genuinely hysterical, it's the prototype for the mockumentary genre, paving the way for Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and all the rest that arguably never quite manage to live up to the high standards set by Tap.  It's one of those movies you really can't just watch once, you have to watch it several times, because you'll notice something new every time you do.  The improv style that these guys use is so well suited for a mockumentary - it allows for all sorts of off the wall lines without derailing the story.  I also really appreciate the attention to detail in creating the history of Spinal totally feels like a real band in every way.  Two thumbs up in my book!  One of my favorite movies when I'm looking for a laugh.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for my next review of Young Mr Lincoln!

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