Rob Reiner’s masterpiece This Is Spinal Tap is the world’s first “mockumentary” – taking the form of a behind-the-scenes documentary with a fictional heavy metal band Spinal Tap as
Rob Reiner’s masterpiece This Is Spinal Tap is the world’s first “mockumentary” – taking the form of a behind-the-scenes documentary with a fictional heavy metal band Spinal Tap as they head out on a US tour, it mocks both the pretension and self-importance of headliner rock bands and the worshipful attention of movies like Gimme Shelter and The Last Waltz. Cast Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer and more make music funnier than ever before.
There’s a thing that happens to comedies in retrospect – a kind of bell curve of subtlety. As a particular joke gets reiterated, later versions go further and further into extremity and absurdity. This Is Spinal Tap, when held up next to the variety of movies it inspired, feels calm, almost restrained. But there’s value to that subtlety; Spinal Tap works as a satire of bands and a satire of movies about bands, both of which deserve all the satire they get. So many of its jokes have entered the common vocabulary. Its techniques of improvisational dialogue and documentary-style shooting and editing where copied but never surpassed. And the fictional band actually went out on tour, which is both maybe the biggest compliment you can pay the film and also ineffably weird.
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