A Mighty Wind
4 out of 5 stars
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Christopher Guest is turning into a one-man mockumentary factory, after starring in Spinal Tap then directing Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show and now this gem, which returns to music to both make fun of and pay homage to 1960s folk music. In the film, Jonathan Steinbloom (Balaban) is setting up a huge reunion concert in memory of his folk music promoter father. And he scores a coup when he gets three top groups to appear on stage: The New Main Street Singers may all be replacements (only Dooley remains from the original line-up), but with a leader like Terry (Higgins) and a manager like Mike (Willard) they're as perky and annoyingly harmonic as ever! The Folksmen (Guest, McKean and Shearer, aka Spinal Tap) were never as big as they should have been, but are happy to get back on stage to perform their one hit. And it's going to take a minor miracle for Mitch & Mickey (Levy and O'Hara) to reunite, since their bitter split nearly 30 years ago ... and their trademark song includes a tender kiss.

From Levy and Guest's script outline, this fantastic ensemble improvises their characters brilliantly as ever. This film is more purely in a documentary style than Best in Show, and it plays completely straight. The humour is very dry, only occasionally absurd, and always extremely close to the bone as it both ridicules and eulogises a type of music that's often laughably silly. Guest weaves in home movies and record cover art that are so authentic they hurt! And the cast add telling details--hilarious bits of comedy that hit the target with deadly glee. Standouts include Lynch's clean-cut Singer, completely unashamed of her porn star past or her loony cult present;Coolidge's deliriously dim euro-pudding PR agent; Willard's has-been TV star moron; and of course the divine trio of McKean, Guest and Shearer, who should by law be required to make a movie together every year. And there are two big surprises: First, the music is extremely well-written and performed by the cast, complete with insanely complex folk arrangements--all of which really spring to life during the concert at the end, which they really performed live before an audience! And second, the film has a surprising emotional resonance in Mitch & Mickey's story, played to perfection by Levy and O'Hara in such a way that it's always both hilarious and moving. Inspired.

cert 12 themes, innuendo 22.Oct.03

dir Christopher Guest
scr Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy
with Bob Balaban, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch, Fred Willard, Parker Posey, Paul Dooley, Larry Miller, Jennifer Coolidge, Ed Begley Jr, Michael Hitchcock, Jim Piddock
release US 16.Apr.03; UK 16.Jan.04
03/US 1h31

Is this Spinal Tap? Shearer, McKean and Guest (above); Levy and O'hara (below).
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send your review to Shadows... A Mighty Wind IndigoJen, Los Angeles: "I saw A Mighty Wind when it hit the theaters here in the US, and loved it. Not only did I find it hilarious, it was touching - especially the Mitch & Mickey storyline - and the music was well crafted. I also enjoyed watching Spinal Tap gone folk! The dvd came out a few months ago, and I bought it to add to my meager collection. I highly recommend it. There are lots of extras including scenes cut from the film, as well as separate song-videos performed by each group. And the commentary really gives an insight to the genius that makes these films so unique. Waiting for Guffman was good, Best in Show was better, and A Mighty Wind is best of all. Here's hoping Christopher Guest and friends keep making them!" (13.Jan.04)
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall