This Is Spınal Tap

Rob Reiner

Christopher Guest
Michael McKean
Rob Reiner
Harry Shearer

Rob ReinerMarty DiBergi
R.J. ParnellMick Shrimpton
David KaffViv Savage
Tony HendraIan Faith
Michael McKeanDavid St. Hubbins
Christopher GuestNigel Tufnel
Harry ShearerDerek Smalls
Fran DrescherBobbi Flekman
Patrick Macnee – Sir Denis Eton-Hogg
Billy CrystalMorty the Mime
June ChadwickJeanine Pettibone

Release Dates:
USA – 2 March 1984
UK – 4 May 1984

2000 – American Film Institute: 100 Years… 100 Laughs #29

2001 DVD Exclusive Awards: Best DVD Audio Commentary – Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer (For the Special Edition); Best DVD Menu Design – Bronson Hill, Carol Roy (For the Special Edition – Nominated); Best DVD Overall Original Supplemental Material: Jeffrey Schwartz (For the Special Edition – Nominated).

2002 National Film Preservation Board, USA: National Film Registry

2004 – American Film Institute: 100 Years… 100 Songs (Official Ballot) For the song “Big Bottom.”

2005 – American Film Institute: 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes (Official Ballot) For the quote “These go to eleven.”

Canada: 14A
UK: 15
Common Sense Rating: Age 14
IMDB: 8/11 😉
Metacritic: 85/100
Netflix: 3.7/5
Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Fresh

OK, I have to admit that I let out a little “squee” when this movie came up. I love this movie, and consider it one of the movies that we all need to see. Maybe it’s not an award winning epic like Citizen Kane, The Godfather, or Ernest Goes Potty, but it perfectly captures a slice of life that any of us who love rock and roll can relate to.

This Is Spinal Tap may not have invented the mockumentary or the rockumentary, but its appearance as a mock-rockumentary in 1984 was so unexpected that many people who saw it in its initial release thought it was an actual stupid documentary about an actual stupid band. This includes many rock stars who so identified with what was happening in the movie that they either didn’t know it was a joke, or if they did, they didn’t think it was funny.

TIST has so many great set pieces, it’s one of those movies you don’t want to watch with me because I’ll annoy the hell out of you as I keep saying, “Favorite part…favorite part…oh…favorite part.”

Stonehenge, the fate of the band’s drummers, the confusing back stage shenanagins, there are too many to list and I wouldn’t dream of saying any more about them for those of you who haven’t seen it yet.

Part of the reason so many were confused is that director Reiner and the Spinal Tap “members” Guest, McKean, and Shearer did such a good job setting up the band’s back story, including fake records, video, and album covers which you see here. As with the mockumentary films that Christopher Guest has continued to make (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind), lots of room was left for the talented performers to improvise.

Christopher Guest is amazing, he and the other guys not only actually play their instruments in this movie, but they started another side project as three warbly voiced folkies, The Folksmen. Kind of the exact opposite of Spinal Tap. In spite of my oft-stated objection to anything having to do with warbly voiced 60s folk, I effing love the movie Guest made featuring The Folksmen, A Mighty Wind.

He’s also married to Jamie Lee Curtis. Holy mother of pearl how hot was she in the 80s? She’s still hot.

What was I talking about?

It occurs to me, however, that This Is Spinal Tap is from 1984, and some of my younger readers may not have seen it; so here’s what you need to do, go rent the DVD. Wait…I forgot. You kids don’t watch actual discs anymore. OK, go to whatever website you kids go to, throw pixie dust in the air, and have them beam the movie into your brain or however the hell you whippersnappers watch movies these days.

I know, I know. A lot of people my age and even older like to stream movies. So much so that Netflix recently tried to get away with going all streaming and send those of us who still prefer to get an actual DVD via snail mail to corporate Siberia. They got severely spanked for that but it does seem to be the way things are going these days. I haven’t gotten into streaming movies because I have such an unreliable web connection that it makes it impossible. I get my web connection from hooking on to my sis and brother-in-law’s wireless next door. On a good day I can stay connected for a long time, on a bad day I have to repeatedly go through the whole process of searching, reconnecting, holding my mouth just right, etc. Who knows what makes the difference, but on a bad day much swearing occurs.

A couple of times I tried to stream some MST3K episodes from Netflix, but when my connection was lost so was the movie. I can get away with watching things on YouTube because they tend to be only ten minutes or so and don’t take as long to download…or upload…I don’t know loads.

All that is to say that I can’t watch movies online. I couldn’t even watch the CBS Republican Debate a while back because lame ass CBS News only put the first hour on actual TV, then you had to switch to the live stream on their website. Which I can’t do. Holy crap, I sound like a white whiner don’t I? People are starving and I’m kvetching about having a lame web connection.

Anyway, the point of all that was that I haven’t gotten into the whole live streaming of movies thing. Here’s my concern: Part of what I love about DVDs is all the extras you get, like the director’s commentaries, making of, deleted scenes and such. Do you get all that when you stream a movie? I don’t know. I’m a streaming virgin.

On the disc I have, the Special Edition DVD, not only do they have extra footage and “making of” stuff, but the lads do a commentary track in character that is just as funny as the original movie. A small sample: “This is the turning point of the film. Every film has a turning point…except for the film The Turning Point, oddly. That film has no turning point.”

The Misplaced Boy MST3K Scale:

Of course, we all know that Nigel Tufnel’s amps all go to 11:

And every hack movie reviewer in history has said, “On a scale of 1 to 10, this movie goes to 11!” Well, not this hack movie reviewer.

OK, I admit that for a minute I was tempted to give TIST a Joel and a half. Instead I’m just going to give it my highest rating ever: A perfect…


Random Quote Whore Quote:

This Is Spinal Tap is a catchpenny, fulminous, undersound of a movie! Spinal Tap is trivial!!!


2 thoughts on “Random Movie Review – This Is Spinal Tap

  1. OMG! OMG! OMG! One of the greatest movies ever made! What other movie could have resulted in the Spinal Tap boys ragging on metal giants Metallica at the Queen tribute for ripping off the black album cover. I must also take a moment to mention a couple of the outstanding songs from the movie . . . Sex Farm, Hell Hole and Big Bottom. How can a rock band go wrong with lyrics like . . . “The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin”?

    A masterpiece deserving of a perfect Joel!

    • Also from ‘Big Bottom:’ “How could I leave her behind?”
      My fave is the (not at all redundant) ‘Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight’ and Nigel’s unfinished opus ‘Lick My Love Pump.’

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