For our next review of This is Spinal Tap (1984), Here’s a review by James of Back to the Viewer.
Thanks to MovieRob for inviting me back to take part in another community blogging project. The Meathead Blogathon focuses on Rob Reiner’s distinguished filmography. I’ll be reviewing the 1984 This is Spinal Tap.
Rob Reiner’s cult classic This is Spinal Tap “the, if you will, rockumentary that you’re about to see” follows England’s loudest (fictional) band on their American tour from the unbiased perspective of Marty DeBergi. A commercial filmmaker, played by Rob Reiner, DeBergi captures the band’s highs and lows on a tour that promises to change the band for better or worse. This is Spinal Tap‘s irreverent wit constantly surprises with authentic casual one liners that perfectly capture a fading rock band’s weary naïvety.
If ever there was a more poignant moment taken a from a film that could be used to describe it as well, it would involve David St. Hubbins, played by Michael McKean, and Nigel Tufnel, played by Christopher Guest.
David: “It’s such a fine line between stupid, and uh…”
David: Yeah, and clever.
Almost as if they were spoon feeding the critics, sitting idly by ready with their toothpicks and typewriters. Unaware of the PR build-up the studio ‘tapped’ into for the release of this Rock comedy I can only hope that audiences were rocked into a chorus of laughs that left a lasting impression.
In terms of Rob Reiner, his meta approach to directing a rockumentary about a fictional band just about sums up his approach to filmmaking. As MovieRob points out in his Meathead Blogathon announcement Reiner can’t be held up against one genre in particular and Spinal Tap benefits from it greatly.
What works particularly well is Reiner decision to give the viewer the opportunity to get a real flavour of the band. Interspersing narrative with live performances across Tap’s American tour serves to complement the story. With each interview, moment of madness, argument or celebration each performance makes light of these otherwise serious situations. With ironic brio Reiner finds the right balance between absurdity and seriousness. For every scene that makes us laugh, cringe, and wince there lies a shadow of earnest stroytelling.
At it’s core This is Spinal Tap is an evocatively sad film oozing sympathy out of it’s comedic pores and drowning it out in a chorus of satirical rock and roll. I mean as far as metaphors go David St. Hubbins taps the nail on the head with this one, “There was a stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf.” With Tap’s fame shrinking in the rock and roll world it doesn’t take a lot to crush their image and the band suffers because of their deluded judgement.
Beneath the humorous charade This is Spinal Tap has some compelling and on occasion philosophical poignancy in it’s delivery. Don’t get me wrong Rob Reiner has produced one of the funniest rockumentary’s, slash that, films to come from the 80s.
For every cloud there is a silver lining. For every downer, embarassing moment, and tight pair of trousers there’s an armadillo lurking beneath ready to terrify and humour. But more importantly, if you need “that extra push over the cliff” there’s an ’11’ on standy-by, you just have to want it that little bit more to make it as a rock star.
Big thanks to Rob for inviting me to take part in the Meathead Blogathon. It had been a while since I first had the pleasure of viewing Rob Reiner’s This is Spinal Tap and on second viewing it was definitely Worth my Time. With a solid 4 stars I’d recommend it to anyone with an aptitude for remembering some of the funniest one liners you’ll hear for a long time.
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