Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Comedy This is Spinal Tap (1984)

This is Spinal Tap (1984)

The documentary genre of film is one that is really taken seriously amongst the movie industry. In a typical documentary film, you get a glimpse at actual events that really happened and hear the truth being told. And then there’s the 1984 movie called “This is Spinal Tap”, a parody of the entire documentary genre and the way we look at documentary films as a whole. The film opens up like a documentary film, but as the movie progresses, you start to realize that you never heard of this rock or any other information at all. “Spinal Tap” coined the phrase “mockumentary”, which means that it plays like a documentary film, but in reality it’s not. “This is Spinal Tap” is a good movie, albeit a few setbacks, but it’s still worth seeing for pure enjoyment.

There’s really not a whole lot of story in the movie. The basic premise is that filmmaker Marty DiBergi (Rob Riener) is making this documentary about this rock group from the United Kingdom named Spinal Tap (which is compromised of Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer). The director follows the rock group on their fruition on making a tour in the United States. We see how this band came to be, as well as taking a glance at their performances, songs, and conflicts throughout the movie.

“This is Spinal Tap” is both funny and hilarious at the same time in the way the action plays out. Almost all of the scenes in the film are memorable. We have Derek Smalls (Shearer) getting stuck inside a set piece, and having a cucumber wrapped in tin foil, in his pants, at a local airport security check. There’s also the clever writing of the songs and a miniature set piece of Stonehenge in which a dwarf nearly fell over. But the scene that everyone remembers is the amplifiers that go to 11. In fact, if this movie had been perfect I would have given it an 11. Why? “Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it?” All these moments are great, but there are some that just do not seem right.

For instance, some of the humor isn’t there and it’s like the writers are forcing the jokes onto you. There could have been more interviews with the band members, which leads to my biggest gripe about the film. It’s a little too short, and you wish you were hoping for more. But, it’s still a good movie.

Overall, “This is Spinal Tap” is a very funny film, but has its moments of predictability. It’s still a blast to watch and definitely worth the full entertainment value. One interesting little side note: the audio commentary on the DVD is a laugh riot to listen to with the cast, portraying their characters from the movie, giving descriptions on what really happened during filming. If you want to see something that pokes fun of the documentary genre, then go see this film.

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