“This is Spinal Tap” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 1
The third film this year for this challenge is admittedly one I likely should already have seen – being a musician in a band, and all. It’s the mockumentary that put director Christopher Guest on the map. It’s, of course, This is Spinal Tap.
It’s true. You can’t really dust for vomit.
I’m surprised to see a few faces pop up throughout the film:
- Rob Reiner (Stand By Me is my #22 of all-time)
- Fran Drescher (The Nanny is in this?)
- Billy Crystal, miming it up
- An incredibly young Paul Shaffer (who I’ve never seen outside of his gig on Letterman)
My favorite moments & quotes – which I imagine anyone who’s seen Tap will recognize immediately:
- Harry Shearer with his wonderfully absurd dual-neck bass
- Shark Sandwich
- Tiny bread
- “None more black”
- Shearer stuck in his “pod”
- “This piece is called Lick My Love Pump“
- The “violin solo”
- The dwarf Stonehenge
The one thing that hit me immediately is that the “live performance” scenes really go on for far too long. I would have much preferred to see more of the interview elements, or other behind-the-scenes stuff – but perhaps it would have messed with the pacing too much. I really appreciate the attention to detail on the glimpses into the 50s and 60s incarnations of the band.
The famous moments (“These go to 11”) kind of fell flat – perhaps because I already half-knew of them without having ever seen the movie. I’m sure I would have also benefited from seeing it with a group, or a full theater’s audience to actually have some infectious laughter to react to.
Compared to Guest’s other films, I have to say I’m a bigger fan of A Mighty Wind and Best In Show – which surprises even me. I’m sure it’s a product of not seeing this upon its original release, where I’m sure it was much more subversive, original, and effective than it plays today. Still, I can enjoy and appreciate the film and what it’s aiming for – it’s just not quite as funny or impressive as I expected it to be. If you follow along throughout this year-long experiment, you’ll come to know it takes a lot for a comedy to impress me.
This is Spinal Tap was at the time of this review #109 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked 221 among the best movies of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
Well, Summer of Sam is a very average historical-fiction crime drama period piece, so it’s going to pale in comparison to the obvious work put into making Tap what it is.
There are funny movies, and there are thought-provoking movies. The ones that attempt to make me think are almost always going to prevail over the ones that attempt to make me laugh. Upstream Color is no exception.
I’m not the biggest fan of Paul Thomas Anderson, or Adam Sandler, but Punch-Drunk Love is probably my favorite of both (except the incredible The Wedding Singer). The tone, visuals, script, and performances are hard to forget – especially the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman is his most unhinged role. Tap is cool for all the right reasons, but it’s nowhere near as creatively expressive as Punch-Drunk Love.
I haven’t seen the original (yet), but the remake was very, very lukewarm. At least Tap is clever, and reaching for its laughs.
Ha. Yeah. The worst Wolverine outing isn’t going to topple Tap.
You know, Turbo is actually much better than you think it would be for an original DreamWorks animated film. It’s got a unique spin on most of the regular tropes, and actually worth a watch – especially if you have kids. Spinal Tap however goes one louder – to 11.
Sorry, Keanu. This is not going to go your way.
This is Spinal Tap ends up at #560 out of 1347 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Be sure to check out all the other films I’ve ranked in this challenge so far this year.