one of Shadows' all-time best films This is Spinal Tap


"These go to 11." Nigel and David (Guest and McKean) show that Spinal Tap is still the loudest band on earth.
dir Rob Reiner
scr Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner
with Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, June Chadwick, Tony Hendra, David Kaff, RJ Parnell, Fran Drescher, Patrick Macnee, Paul Shaffer, Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby, Ed Begley Jr, Dana Carvey, Howard Hesseman, Anjelica Huston, Fred Willard
Embassy 84/US 11 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Quite possibly the funniest spoof of all time, Rob Reiner's debut feature This Is Spinal Tap is so jam packed with classic moments that it leaves us giggling helplessly from start to finish. It's played dead straight as a documentary--no, rockumentary!--about a fading British heavy metal band, and the three main characters, played by comedians, are so completely and utterly convincing that fans keep calling for a Spinal Tap reunion tour. Instead, we get to see the film on the big screen again. We're not worthy.

Reiner plays documentarian Marty DiBergi, following the band on its latest (and probably last) American tour. He interviews the band members, travels on the road with them and captures their "magic" on stage, mixing in clips from their various past incarnations. David St Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls (McKean, Guest and Shearer) are struggling to keep it together, but continue trying to please their dwindling fan base while their agent (Hendra) and David's interfering girlfriend (Chadwick) wage all-out war. And their current drummer (Parnell) awaits his doom, like so many who have gone before him.

Quite simply, this rough little film verges on sheer perfection--both as dead-on parody and affectionate homage. There are more classic moments than I can begin to list here; this is definitely one for the home video library, although seeing it on the big screen again is bliss. Reiner shot days worth of footage, like a real documentary, and then edited the film expertly. There's a sublime sense of comic timing in the way it's assembled, and the dialog is so painfully hilarious that we expect the actors to break character in every scene. But they never do. The result is that, while we laugh at the comic invention, we also end up caring for these guys. And when the film wins our affection, we simply never want it to end. Come on, just one little reunion for the fans. Mick Jagger and Diana Ross are still out there ... but we want Tap!

[15--themes, language] 6.Sep.00
US reissue 8.Sep.00; UK reissue 13.Oct.00

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"Very clever, very funny, very well-observed, with some fabulous lines. It took me over a decade to see it, but it hadn't aged at all. What a band!" --Jo C, West Sussex.

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall