This is Spinal Tap (1984) (R)
Rob Reiner created, arguably, one of the biggest cult movies of all time. I would place it second under “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” as the most enduring cult classic. But unlike so many other cult movies that seem to only hold an attraction to a particular section of people, “This is Spinal Tap” appeals to a much larger audience.
This fake documentary or as they’re called now, thanks to shows like “The Office” and “Parks & Recreation”—‘mockumentaries’; takes place when a filmmaker, Marty DeBergi (Rob Reiner) decides to follow the band Spinal Tap on tour as they release their new album “Smell the Glove”.
And so it begins. The jokes from this film are non-stop and they all deliver remarkably well. It’s a weird combination of National Geographic and Monty Python, and absolutely the forerunner for shows like the aforementioned “The Office”. But the thing I find interesting is that this film was released in 1984 and it took many more years for the fake-documentary style of comedy to take hold like it has in television today. Why so long? Maybe it’s because “Spinal Tap” is truly the master of this comedy style. The film is effortlessly funny, unlike some of the shows on now that prey on the feeling of awkwardness to coerce the viewer into laughing.
The band is comprised of David, the lead singer; Nigel, guitarist; Derek Smalls, the bassist; and the keyboardist and drummer. David and Nigel are obviously reminiscent of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the film even brings around a Yoko Ono character to add to the ‘drama’. Although the most recognizable spoof is of The Beatles, no band is sacred as the film rolls on making jibes mercilessly everywhere. From The Rolling Stones to Jimi Hendrix, this film never lets up.
When on tour, the band takes a turn for the worse as their planned album cover is too provocative for stores to want to carry and gets cut. The gags surrounding this are hilarious, (SPOILER) the album cover ends up being purely black and then no wants a signed record because ink won’t show up on a black background.
One of the best running gags of the film revolves around the drummer. In rock and rock history, many of the great bands suffered from the untimely and mysterious death of a fellow member. “Spinal Tap” attacks this tendency with amazing jokes about how the drummer always dies leading up to my favorite line from the film:
“You can’t dust for vomit.”
The songs that are supposed to be future classics are filled with sexual innuendo and bursting with cheesiness. The descriptions of the song-writing processes and how the band members view their songs, are entertaining to say the least. I’m not sure that there’s a dull moment in this movie at all. It’s the unexpected jabs at the musical industry that makes this film such a gem.
If you know your music history, the film is amazing. If not, I’m not sure how funny you’ll find it.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones