7 March 2007 | edantheman
On the fine line between stupid and clever... kind of like lukewarm water
Not too long ago, my classmates and I were allowed to bring in a DVD of our choice as it was nearing the end of the school term. Knowing that these pop culturists wouldn't be too happy to watch one of my 'arty cult films', I didn't give a shite and brought in 'This is Spinal Tap'. They quite happily agreed to put it on after I told them it was funny and had swearing in it. But soon, boredom started to sink in with the class. "Crap", they labelled it. "Boring", they yelled. After less than ten minutes, my teacher was changing the disk to, wait for it
'The Others'. One of my chums, being a fan of the film, dismissed them as idiots. However, I told him it was all a matter of taste and that they would be much happier settling down to watch their 40-year-old virgins and American pies than this more subtly-coloured tin of paint. So as I walked over to the front of the classroom, tail between my legs, to pick up my DVD my teacher leaned over and said, "Don't worry, I liked it. You have to be cultured to enjoy this sort of thing." And you know what, she's right.
To be quite frank, 'Spinal Tap' is just like marmite. You'll either love everything about it or hate every frame of it. Some people say it's like watching wet paint dry, others say it was so funny it gave them a hernia. I definitely fall into that latter category. After the umpteenth viewing, I still find it painfully hilarious!
But that's not the only reason for seeing it. It's also a totally accurate, observational and witty deconstruction of rock's strutting pretensions. If you're someone who thinks rock bands take themselves far too seriously, you need this movie. If, on the other hand, you feel like rock stars should forever be treated like gods and worshipped on a regular basis, you might just want to avoid this. After all, when Aerosmith's Steven Tyler had finished watching it he said he just felt like he wanted to throw himself off a cliff! It reveals the utter shallowness of rock 'n' roll without even flinching!
If you're also a lover of in-your-face laugh-out-loud got-it-straight-away humour, just stay away. Far, far away. This is intellectual stuff. You have to possess intelligence to enjoy it. I've never met any stupid people who did enjoy this film.
Director Rob Reiner really shows how broad his range is with this (his best in my opinion!), bringing every authentic detail, no matter how seemingly minor, to the screen effortlessly with a wonderfully sharp cast. Its still a challenge to get my head around the fact that this is from the same tubby Santa Claus look-alike who made 'The Princess Bride' and 'Stand By Me'! Reiner has always been a man with extraordinarily wide horizons and always will be, constantly entertaining cinema-goers with so many different stories!
The film's fly-on-the-wall mockumentary style works wonders, getting some beautiful performances from its actors (namely Michael McKean and Christopher Guest) and adding to its 'natural' feel. Many films, mainly British ones, have imitated this style ever since. Even one of the film's actors and co-writers has stuck to the hip of this film for the most part of his career, coming up with new and even more outlandish 'mockumentaries' to entertain and sate his legion of followers.
On each viewing, you'll erupt into laughter at the discovery of a new joke. Then for weeks on end, you'll be quoting it to your friends and everyone you know. It's like a treasure trove without a bottom!
To finish this not-so-critical analysis, I can never find any fault or flaw even after the innumerable viewings I've had. I never get bored of it either. I think the reason I like this so much is, honestly, because it was made for people like me!