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  • We have a duo, a trio, and a group of 9. These three fictitious 'folk' groups from the 60s reunite for a concert in this mockumentary. What makes it so interesting is (1) I was a young adult in the 60s and vividly remember the folk group wave and (2) Guest, Levy and the others do their own singing and playing of songs they wrote for the movie. I think its IMDb ratings which cluster around 7 and 8 are about right. Not everyone will like 'A Mighty Wind' (song from final concert), it has improvised humor and many of the same actors from 'Best in Show'. But for fans of the humor of Guest and Levy it is a very nice little movie. The DVD has interesting extras, and the commentary track by Guest and Levy discuss how, for example, Levy had to take lessons to get is guitar skills back, and how O'Hara learned to play the autoharp for this role.

    The movie is 92 minutes long, which includes the 7 minutes of end credits. Of the 85 minutes of actual movie, the first 60 sets up the characters and groups, shows them in rehearsals, covers several back stories, then the final 25 minutes are the concert itself, actually performed before a live audience. There were a few truly outstanding folk groups in the 1960s, but there also were a whole bunch of mediocre ones. The three groups featured in this movie are as good as many of the 1960s groups that actually made a living entertaining. And, as at least one critic said, that's part of the problem with 'A Mighty Wind' - the groups are good enough, and the final concert is real enough, that much of the impact of the humor went away during the last act. The lampooning was gone, replaced by a legitimate set of performances.

    Still, I found it thoroughly enjoyable, and my favorite of the 'Guest/Levy' movies.
  • Some felt that this was too close to reality to be considered a parody, but I thought it was beautifully done - made fun of the cloying smugness of some "folkies", but mixed it with genuine pathos. I have a feeling Eugene Levy may have lost a couple of friends to bad acid trips - his portrayal was hilarious, but not cruel. Christopher Guest continues to amaze me with his light touch; most comedies put people in bad situations and make them squirm their way through; instead Guest takes apparently mediocre characters and puts them in situations that stretch their personalities.

    Contains the single funniest comment I've ever heard about model trains.

    Suggested double feature: This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, or Bob Roberts
  • FilmOtaku20 April 2004
    Another in a long list of films that have been recommended to me, `A Mighty Wind' was probably one of the funniest films I've seen this century. The mockumentary style of `This is Spinal Tap' has always been a favorite of mine, and this film, about the reunion of three folk groups after the death of the owner of their former record label is absolutely hilarious. Christopher Guest's usual cast is involved, though Eugene Levy and Harry Shearer stood out for me personally. (Although every time Shearer's character spoke I couldn't get the image of Principal Skinner from `The Simpsons' out of my head.)

    Anyone with either an absurdist or dry sense of humor will find this movie funny. Speaking for myself, I rarely laugh out loud when watching films by myself at home and I was in tears from having fits of laughter throughout most of the film. The writing is above brilliant, and the acting and timing are dead on. I haven't seen the other two `recent' films that proceeded this one, `Best in Show' and `Waiting for Guffman', but after seeing `A Mighty Wind' I will definitely check them out in the very near future.

  • The first time I saw this movie, I laughed and thought it was pretty good. Then I saw it again. And again. And again. I bought it and watched it even more times.

    I don't think the movie is "pretty good" anymore. It's made a permanent home in my Christopher Guest collection as one of the movies I go around quoting. I own the DVD, the soundtrack and even the songbook.

    All of the cast members are hilarious as usual. I love The Folksmen trio of Harry Shearer, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest. A little reminiscent of Spinal Tap goes folk. The New Main Street Singers have such a dark side it's funny to see their on-stage presence as such chipper people. And Mitch and Mickey are the wacky split up sweethearts of yesteryear.

    I love this movie and look forward to the next release of this great comedic team!
  • Christopher Guest's movies, like his performances, are generally subtle and always low-key. They are not for people who need laugh tracks to follow the humor and most of his work is so contextually-based that some knowledge of the subject he's dissecting is a definite asset. Guest, who was a performer in the very early SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, is, in many respects, the Anti-Belushi of modern American comedy.

    Nevertheless, he shares with Belushi - and many of their contemporaries, who came from one or another branch of the Second City organization - a certain fondness for off-the-wall elements in his work; Guest's tend to be slipped in, quietly, while Belushi's popped out of exploding cakes.

    A MIGHTY WIND is a spot-on satire of the American Folk Music movement of the early and mid-1960s. The narrative conceit is a memorial concert for a recently deceased impressario, organized by his son, which reunites three folk groups from the 60s.

    The real elements of the film are the send-ups of a variety of tropes of the era, musical styles, personalities, and quite an array of music-business cliches. Remarkably, however, the songs are genuinely entertaining in themselves; both the writing and the performances. They're satirical, but so subtlely performed that it's easy to loose the thread of the lyrics and wind up mindlessly nodding heads and grooving along, which pretty neatly captures the popular music experience for the last several generations. Satire within satire.

    The musical performances are excellent, recreating, almost frighteningly, the taste and texture of folk music of the era. And, bringing several real 60s folk acts to mind.

    The acting is typical of Guest movies, such as SPINAL TAP and BEST IN SHOW; very quiet, restrained, low-key, with, apparently, a lot of dialogue improvised. The performers are mostly drawn from the same group Guest has used in the past: Eugene Levy (who co-wrote the script with Guest) and Catherine O'Hara, Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, Ed Begley, Jr., and Guest, himself.

    Comparisons with Guest's most popular picture, THIS IS SPINAL TAP are both interesting and tricky. Interesting because both movies were written and directed by the same man, and shared most of the same casts. Tricky, because while some seem to compare AMW unfavorably with TIST, a looking at these films, together, they have a lot in common. So much so, in fact, that it's reasonable to consider them a pair; very similar takes on two, distinct musical genres of a similar era. The writing, acting, tone, pacing of these two movies is very similar. The jokes are similar. The points of view are similar. The focus on both performers, and the behind-the-scenes people is similar. The real difference is the music.

    This, in turn, tends to suggest that those who react very differently to these two films may be reacting more to the music, directly, and to the ambiance of the world around the particular musical genre more than anything else.

    Guest's movies don't have many laugh-out-loud moments. Most of the humor is more the "big-smile", sometimes, the chuckle, kind. But, Ed Begley, Jr. has perhaps his best comic scene, ever, when he does a take as a Swedish-American public television producer dropping Yiddish into his conversation; one word per sentence. It's a totally dead-pan and very quiet performance which, like so much of Christopher Guest's humor, you will either get or not get. If you do, you may fall off your chair.

    Eugene Levy, who co-wrote the script, with Guest, is also very good, having finally invented a second character after having spent something more than 30 years (since his Second City TV days) doing variations of one.

    Who might enjoy A MIGHTY WIND? Anyone who remembers the era and the music, and anyone who enjoys show business insider takes. It's a more difficult call for those born later. And, if you have trouble keeping Janis Joplin and Joanie Mitchell distinct in your mind, you probably won't follow most of what's going on.

    A Mighty Wind is a film that I loved, and it disappoints me that there were so many critics and filmgoers who were disappointed with it. It seems that quite a few people think that comedies, especially the ones of the mockumentary sort (as this one is), can't go farther then simple mocking. It puzzles me that so many were in agreement that a film about a bittersweet reunion can't be good comedy. I think some moviegoers need quit worrying about smuggling that bag of Milk Duds into the theater and remember to bring an open mind. There may be funnier, more farcical situations (which have been the basis of many, many lesser films), but a bittersweet reunion can inspire comedic moments as well as be the basis for a great film, which A Mighty Wind is.

    Christopher Guest, who has championed the film making style that is mockumentary with his role in the classic This Is Spinal Tap, and by directing the hilarious Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, directs as well as co-writes the story with Eugene Levy (the actual lines are all improvised by the actors).

    The film plays as a documentary about the organization of a memorial concert featuring folk groups from the 60's who were managed by the late Irving Steinbloom. The groups featured in the concert are the cheesy "neuftet" The New Main Street Singers, the classic folk trio The Folksmen, and the former sweethearts of the folk music world Mitch and Mickey.

    The best performance in the film is that of Catherine O'Hara as Mickey Crabbe. She boldly doesn't go for all the laughs, and creates a complete, full, interesting character. Note the interview scenes where she reminisces about her past as one half of the folk "phenomenon" that was Mitch and Mickey. When she talks about their relationship you can see and hear that this is a woman who loved Mitch and Mickey, but not Mitch. Levy is also superb as Mitch Cohen, clearly still in love with Mickey but also clearly insane. He creates an almost over the top comedic performance that makes great use of his infamous eyebrows. He is in a constant state of uncomfortable quirkiness, except when he is singing with Mickey, and he remembers what their relationship used to be, and how it felt to be loved. Note the scene where the two practice one of their hits, "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow," and don't know what to do when its time for them to lovingly kiss each other, which was their claim to fame when they were making TV appearances back in the 60's. Without saying a word, they agree that it would be inappropriate and continue to the end of the song. O'Hara's reaction to that moment is perfect. Then note the scene when they perform the song at the concert and, each for different reasons, they decide to do the kiss. When I first saw that moment and the characters' reaction to it, I got goosebumps. I realized that for the first time in any of Guest's mockumentaries, I actually cared for the characters, and I loved it. It's great that instead of going down that road taken by so many other films, where the former lovers find that they have loved each-other all along and have sex to affirm this to the audience, A Mighty Wind gives something far more interesting.

    Although the Mitch & Mickey relationship is the heart of the film, it should not be forgotten that this an ensemble movie. There are terrific comedic performances all around, including those of Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, and Guest as the members of The Folksmen, John Michael Higgins and Jane Lynch as the color worshiping Terry and Laurie Bohner, Jennifer Coolidge as the can't-quite-place-her-accent Amber Cole, Fred Willard as the outrageously sad Mike LaFontaine and Ed Begley Jr. the yiddish talking Swede Lars Olfen.

    It may not have gotten as many laughs as This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, or Best in Show, but A Mighty Wind bravely goes where those films didn't. It achieves touching, real emotion. It is one of the best films of 2003.
  • In the '60s and '70s, I was a MAJOR folk music fan, and a (very bad) would-be performer; I still have my old Yamaha guitar tucked away in a closet. For years now I've been a second shift engineer at the local PBS TV station... I'm the guy who runs the videotape while the SANE people around here are at home.

    EVERY time we run a Pledge (or, as I refer to it, "The Big Beg"), it seems that they come up with ANOTHER nostalgic music reunion program... Doo Wop folks, Rockers, Surfin' music groups, and lately, Folkies.

    The folk reunions have been, IMHO, sort of sad. The spirit is willing, but the flesh isn't quite up to recapturing the old glory days.

    Judy Collins tries to sing the songs she did when she was 19, and her voice just can't come within a half tone of the high notes she used to hit.

    Barry McGuire was an angry, fiery young poet, but now he just goes through the motions with dated stuff like EVE OF DESTRUCTION. It's hard to take him too seriously.

    Even my favorites, Peter, Paul & Mary, have seen better days. Peter Yarrow looks like he should be running a pawn shop somewhere, Paul Stookey resembles a college professor who's just counting the days until retirement, and unfortunately Mary Travers hasn't aged very well at all... I remember her as a woman who used to OOZE a sultry, steamy sensuality, but nowadays, on high definition TV, she bears a very unfortunate resemblance to a bulldog!

    Just the same tho, I have to admit that Peter, Paul & Mary's musical talent HAS lasted over the years.

    When I discovered A MIGHTY WIND I thought I was going to die laughing with absolute joy... SOMEBODY besides ME saw these tries to capture the past in a bottle as a lost cause!!!

    Ed Begley is MAGNIFICENT as Lars Olfen, the "PBN" executive producer; he has the Yuppie pseudointellectual pompousness of PBS paper shuffling executives down PERFECTLY!!! I KNOW Lars Olfen VERY well; I happily work the second shift just to AVOID these rancidly arrogant characters, who thankfully LEAVE the station every day at 5 PM!!!

    The New Main Street Singers are a mix of THE NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS and the squeaky clean, Stepford Wife - like automatons of the old UP WITH PEOPLE cast... but with a delicious touch of gameyness that we ALL knew was just below the surface, added by the past exploits of Bohners.

    The Folksmen are a hybrid of the old Chad Mitchell Trio (which, incidentally, was a foursome until they dumped Henry John Deutchendorf, later better known as John Denver!), and the Limelighters.

    The PBS reunions sort of tacitly ask the question "Whatever happened to...", and A MIGHTY WIND answers it... EXPLICITLY.

    LIFE is what happened to them. They became part of reality, just like the rest of us.

    I have to admit that the musical performances in the film are EXCELLENT; for a lot of people who weren't really part of the '60s commercialized folk music scene, they do a VERY creditable job with the material. They could have been folkies for real!

    The only joker in the deck tho; the musical material, if you listen very closely to the lyrics, is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS!!! Almost ALL of it, especially the song I NEVER DID NO WANDERIN', is a brilliant parody of the stuff we listened to and loved back in the '60's.

    For anyone who knew the glory days of Bleeker Street in New York, or Old Town in Chicago, this is a film that will be an absolute joy. It shows both the GOOD parts of those days, and also shows up the silliness of some of the idealism in what we believed.
  • Warning: Spoilers

    A Rorschach film: this is a brilliantly wry slice-of-modern-absurdity for some and merely a tepid comedy with quotable one-liners for others.

    To be honest, this is the sort of movie I would have found mildly boring ten years ago when I was in college. The absurdity of the characters' naive self-absorption is too low-key to evoke more than a smile; the subject matter (folksinging) is not exactly a contemporary choice for parody material; and many times the humor veers too aimlessly from clever satire (the anal retentive reunion producer) to the simply odd (the Witches Into Natural Colors) to flat efforts at "zany" surprises (the surprise denouement of one of the Folksmen).

    However, in the ten years since college, I've learned that most people who pursue their dreams are just a little bit sad, and I've come to appreciate just how many disappointments a would-be artist or writer -- or anyone else with dreams -- has to swallow to keep even a few of his or her dreams alive in the world.

    I've met a lot people just like the characters in this film. The brilliant characterizations by Levy, O'Hara, Guest, Shearer, McKean, Begley, and the rest of the cast are witty, knowing captures of such people. O'Hara is particularly adroit playing a middle-aged woman who has come to accept that her brief moment of fame and of passionate romance concluded more than half her lifetime ago -- hers is the most affecting performance in the film. Levy could've gotten away with nothing more than a comic cliché of a burn-out from the 1960s but instead manages to evoke a certain poignancy without falling into schmaltz. The chemistry between both these two actors and their characters brings a tear to the eye once or twice without seeming jarring or contrived.

    A few times, the story is a tad too wistful about the past and takes too much delight in making the past look good by depicting the present as meaningless gloss in comparison -- sometimes the actors/writers seem to be indulging in middle-aged nostalgia for their own youth instead of telling a story about a folksinging reunion.

    Still, I'm impressed (as I usually am with these actors/writers) at the way the movie combines off the wall comic bits with subtle emotional nuances in a style unique to this type of parody/commentary on human life.

    You'll either adore this movie or find it merely mildly diverting, but those of us who adore it will probably want to give it a 9 out of 10!
  • It's amazing how well executed this movie is. It seems realisic and yet so..."movie!" Christopher Guest (who did a fine "guest" on Saturday Night Live in a game show skit..."Chocolate Babies?") did some great work on this and all of the characters are classic. Eugene Levy may be the best in this. His performance of Mitch, or rather the shell of what Mitch once was is hilarious. The best scene is, in my opinion, the scene in which Mickey's wife shows Mitch his model trains and model town. Levy's comments about seeing the town in the autumn ("I would have made tiny leaves...") are the funniest lines in the film. The Folksmen show off funny interaction scenes (yep, those are the guys from Spinal Tap) and The New Mainstreet Singers are definitely the commercial b*st*rds of this film. W.I.N.C.-a religion based on color. That's classic. I would recommend getting the DVD for the great deleted scenes, including a press conference in which Mitch talks about Canadian hip-hop, where kids rap about cleanliness.

    I love this film. Despite it's rating, a great family movie. The sexual references are minor. There's just two scenes. One: A brief talk about a sex emporium and Two: References to starring in dirty movies. Get past these and mom, dad and the kids can have a good time. Just punch a hole in the record first.
  • An excellent entertainment, though very different from this ensemble's other pseudo-documentary efforts (Spinal Tap, Best in Show).

    Incredibly creative. I'm a fan of folk music and this film really nails the eclectic backgrounds of folk musicians, right down to the distinctive vocalizations, multi-line harmonies and excessive enthusiasm. I was so impressed that all the parodied songs were written and performed (well) by the actors and I now covet the sound track. Get ready for a lot of subtle humor and story lines and enjoy the send-up.
  • Christopher Guest is a generous actor/director in that he doesn't hog the camera for himself. He lets his actors do their thing without much interfering; he fades into the background, practically.

    This pseudo-documentary about the folk music craze of the late 50s and early 60s in this country is accurate. It is a hilarious take on those performers that were part of the era. Mr. Guest has a great insight in presenting the different characters and brings them together with an accurate eye for detail.

    Eugene Levy and Catherine OHara are teamed up again as Mitch and Mickey, a famous duo from those days who were the biggest act in folk music of the time. Eugene Levy appears to be catatonic as Mitch, who agrees to take part in the Town Hall ceremony honoring his mentor. Catherine O'Hara is excellent in her part as Mickey, the loyal partner.

    The documentary form seems to work well, as it serves the point for the reunion of all these performers coming together one more time, even though the world has forgotten them.

    There are disappointments in that no one has a central role, but the misuse of Parker Posey in the film is regrettable. I guess there was no space to showcase any actor over another.

    Mr. Guest keeps getting better with every new film and it seems a very great idea to concentrate on this very talented cast for future occasions where they can all interact, as it has been the case, in the previous occasions.
  • The third and last installment of Christopher Guest's "mockumentaries," this one centers around three folk-singing groups from the 1960s re-uniting for a concert many years later.

    As someone who well remembers most of the folk singers from the '50s and '60s, and was familiar with Guest's other movies, I was anxious to see this. It was okay, but to be honest, I expected more, at least more laughs and a little better pacing. This was just a bit too slow and not as funny as his other films, especially "Best In Show."

    There is some great music in here, to be sure, and not lip-synced, either, but most of that isn't heard until the last 30 minutes. Most of the same actors are in this film as in the previous two "mockumentaries," and I always appreciate the comedic talents of Catherine O'Hara and the rest of the crew.

    The humor is unique, dry....very dry, and I appreciated it a bit more on the second viewing. The only annoying person, to me, was Eugene Levy's character "Mickey," a spaced-out loser whose act wears thin the more you see of him.

    It's not a bad film; just not up to Guest's '"Best Of Show."
  • Umie7931 March 2005
    The only adjective I can come up with to describe the soundtrack of this movie is "infectious". I can't stop listening to it. While most of the songs are corny and campy (as they should be since the movie is a spoof) they are ultimately wonderfully listen-able. But there are songs that are top notch folk material as well. Songs like "One More Time" and "When You're Next to Me" will stand tall against any great folk song that has ever been written.

    Songs like "Potato's in the Paddy Wagon", "Blood on the Coal" and "Old Joe's Place" are just plain fun to listen to and will get you tapping your foot. You won't be able to help it, trust me. If I ever wanted to see a sequel to a movie and to a soundtrack, this is definitely the one.

    I would venture to say, that even if you are not a fan of folk music, you will absolutely love this soundtrack. Throw in some insanely funny tracks like "Loco Man" and a cover of the Rolling Stones "Start Me Up" and you have a near masterpiece here.

    If you ever need something that will get you laughing and smiling as well as snapping your fingers then buy this CD. You will not be disappointed.
  • winner5526 January 2010
    There are two substantial problems with this film, neither making it unwatchable, although I confess they did make me feel uncomfortable. The first is that director Guest cannot capture any of the various "documentary" camera styles widely known with the necessary degree of accuracy; this isn't cinema verite, nor do we get successful sequences of talking heads. Even the concert scenes fail to emulate concert documentaries. Visually, then, we are always reminded that we are not watching a documentary but a mockumentary - we can't really allow ourselves the 'willing suspension of disbelief' such a satire requires from us. This problem is exasperated by some of the actors' performances who are trying way too hard to be funny, rather than play straight and let the ridiculous situations call out laughter.

    The second problem is more troubling; the music is too good! Most of these songs are not "mock folk music," they ARE '60s style folk songs. Take even the title track: "A Mighty Wind" as a title is amusing in that it evokes flatulence; but by the time you get to such lyrics "a mighty wind of freedom/ blowing for you and me" you wonder where the joke is? That is after all exactly what many folkies thought was going on in the '60s, which makes the song dynamically expressive of that era.

    Comparisons with "This is Spinal Tap" are of course unavoidable. The songs of "Spinal Tap" came to within a hair's breadth of real heavy metal, but push comes to shove, most real heavy metal songs escape their own pretentiousness by 'rocking out,' they are, bottom line, just variant forms of traditional rock songs; Spinal Tap, to make their point and remain funny, kept their pretentiousness meter pushed to 11.

    Another issue in comparison indicates where "Mighty Wind" goes wrong. Both heavy metal and folk music had substantial sub-cultures develop around them. But when "Spinal Tap" was released the heavy metal sub-culture was alive and thriving, about to receive new blood with bands in NYC ad LA. The folk music subculture was dead by 1977; a lot of folkies did end up in business or academia and moved quietly into the suburbs (those refusing this route gathered 'round the Grateful Dead, a phenomenon requiring a whole other movie to explore). Consequently, a "where are they now" satire about folk singers ultimately requires a satire on 'midddle America,' and of course that's really too broad a subject for a film that wants so much to highlight the music involved.

    In short then, "A Mighty Wind" fails to explore humorously the historical dissonance between where folk musicians came from and where they ended up - a dissonance captured powerfully (with much unintentional irony) in the study of Jerry Garcia's friendship with David Grisman, "Grateful Dawg." It's a dissonance strong enough to have fueled the addiction that killed Garcia; it is a dissonance that still quietly influences our current politics and cultural reference points. And while director Guest clearly tries to stab insightfully into the the heart of this dissonance, he doesn't even scratch the surface; that the Folksmen are last seen playing in the foyer of a casino maybe ironic, but since they are, in the last analysis professional musicians trying to earn a living, the irony is all about the casino, not the musicians. Their talent, and the entertainment value of their songs, remain untouched; it is simply not the '60s anymore.

    Entertaining, but more for the music than the comedy, which is faint praise indeed.
  • Right from giddy-up, I'm a HUGE SCTV fan, as well as the guys from Spinal Tap, and this movie is right at the top of my DVD library list. I'm also a Simpson suckah, and dig Harry Shearer and his contribution to the show.

    But who knew that I'd become a bona-fide Ed Begley Jr. fan at this stage in my life? I mean, his tiny role in Spinal Tap had me shooting milk out of my nose in hysteria, but his 'Lars Olfen' shtick --A Swede with the heart of a Jew-- was one of the funniest aspects of AMW. As Lars talks about a past musical history, he delivers one of the funniest lines I've ever heard in ANY movie (pay attention--his wit can sneak up on you!). Looking at Begley's career, it's easy to surmise an under-appreciation of his talent, as well as the occasional mis-direction of his energies (I mean, come on, this guy's been acting since 1969! Sheesh!).

    The music in this movie seems SO genuine that sometimes I would forget that this was heavy-duty satire; from the awesome "Never Did No Wanderin'" to the sweet and innocent "Kiss at the End of the Rainbow", these songs could easily stand alone as pieces of musical and lyrical masterpieces. But when you add the lampooning element, it becomes downright fun-on-a-bun!! As most folks know, Guest/Levy very often work with a ghost script and give the characters a wide berth to improvise. There are times when that aspect of the film shines through, and then there are the finely detailed musical performances in which, yes, everyone acting like a musician IS actually playing their instrument and/or singing, and performing 'live'. These two contrasting things: improvisation and rote-memory dedication play on each other beautifully.

    To put a fine point on it, this movie will appeal *obviously* to folk music fans (with a sense of humor), to Guest/Levy fans, and to those of us that enjoy a slightly skewed sense of purpose to get the heck away from mainstream movie mania and move closer to the edge of real movie making.

    This is good shtuff: you'll find yourself laughing out loud, and then humming the tunes later... I give it a 10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've enjoyed Chris Guest's work for some time now, but this is the first movie that he has made that got such an emotional reaction out of me.

    In this film, we watch a story of lost love with Mitch and Mickey, an odd love with Laurie and Terry Bohner and their cult-like group of peppy musicians, and old friends (Alan Barrows, Jerry Palter, and Mark Shubb) reuniting for different reasons. This all winds together wonderfully with a public television concert in New York City, each band performing a few songs (except Mitch and Mickey, who only perform one heart-tearing song).

    Going in, I knew that Michael McKean, Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Harry Shearer, etc. were all multi-talented from watching them for years now. But I was floored by the complete 180 that they all took. Most of the cast wrote all of the songs in this movie...musical arrangements, lyrics, etc. and everyone performed them live, no lip synching. What we're left with is a terrifically crafted film about love, music, and friendship.

    A wonderful film by Guest and company.

  • For people of a certain age, baby boomers really, this will be both a hilarious exercise and an affectionate and emotionally nostalgic send up of an era. The quality of the tunes places this on a different level than say a savage taking apart of the folk era and it's far more meticulously observed than a satire made by those who weren't there but are churning over the resultant artifacts with second or even third hand observations by the young and stupid industry players which is about par for the course nowadays. Bravo! It does what it sets out to do and gets off stage with the audience, at least this member, wanting more, a very rare occurrence these days.
  • Ok, I just saw the movie earlier today, and I have to say that I came out of the theater disappointed.

    Now, just to get this out in the open, I'm a huge fan of Spinal Tap. I think that it was nothing short of brilliance, possibly the funniest movie ever made and one of my favorite movies made in the final quarter of the 20th century. More recent works of Christopher Guest, however, have been a bit of a let-down compared to that first comet. I found Waiting for Guffman to be stale, uninspired and just rather un-funny. However, I enjoyed Best in Show considerably, I found some of the characters to be hilarious (such as Fred Willard's, Christopher Guest's and Parker Posey's) and thought it was a huge step made towards making the same sort of genius accomplished in Spinal Tap. So, perhaps A Mighty Wind was built up a bit too much in my mind.

    So here's my probably oversimplified review of the movie:

    The good: The six or seven funny parts in the movie (I won't elaborate, don't want to spoil it for others).

    The Bad: Pretty much everything else.

    Why: Well, most of the movie just wasn't comedy. A lot of it was actually quite serious and dramatic, seeming out of place for a movie advertised as a comedy. Either that, or A Mighty Wind is actually a drama with-out-of-place over-the-top comedic bits. Of course, there are some comedic bits which fall flat, basically being much too silly (for lack of a better word). What Christopher Guest needs to realize is that the improvised format which he has made, really (in my opinion, of course) lends itself to more subtle humor than for completely over the top comedy. That is what makes Spinal Tap and, to a lesser extent, Best in Show great. The best scenes in Spinal Tap were just the explanations of the band's past, songs, quirks and messages. The best parts of Waiting for Guffman were invariably Christopher Guest and the Parker Posey/Michael Hitchcook duo just talking about their dogs, and showing us, comparatively subtly, how they over-dramatize the importance of dogs.

    Going on to a more practical complaint: I thought that there just were too many characters. Not that you can't keep track of them all, it's just that with all those characters, you can only devote so many scenes to each one. This means that some of the more interesting and funny characters (the Folksmen) don't get quite as many scenes as you would want or expect. If Christopher Guest makes another movie, I sincerely hope that he reduces the size of the cast, so we can focus on a small group of colorful characters, rather than a very large group of mostly dull ones, sprinkled here and there with funny ones.

    Another complaint: Very unbalanced, as I mentioned before. Some characters are very comedic (The leaders of the Main Street Singers) and others are really quite dramatic (Mitch and Mickey), making it an unhealthy mend, with uneasy contrasts from scene to scene. It's almost as if Guest told Levy (yes, I know he wrote half of it) and O'Hara that it was a drama while he told John Michael Higgins and Jane Lynch that it was an absurd comedy.

    Well, I hope that you, if you actually read this far (congratulations, if you actually read all of it!) gained something from reading this review. Good evening.
  • More gentle than Christopher Guest's other mockumentaries, "A Mighty Wind" lacks the obvious satire and parody of "Best in Show" and "Waiting for Guffman." This is not a criticism. If the actors in this film weren't already well-known from other movies, in particular the above-mentioned mockos, one might be totally suckered into thinking that this was a real account of real folk musicians. Fred Willard's hysterical "once-was" character and the rather dim-witted publicity assistant aside, these characters are believable and endearing. I would go so far as to say that Eugene Levy's acting in this film is real, serious, heart-tugging acting, rather than the goofy buck-toothed oddball he usually plays.

    And of course there is the music. If you were impressed by the lads from Spinal Tap and their musical prowess, check out this incredible ensemble of actors who throw themselves headlong into the folk genre with amazing aplomb. You don't like folk? Don't worry about it. This'll get you every time.
  • Christopher Guest and company tackle the super-cheesy folk music scene of the '60s in their own unmistakable way. While its status among Guest's other pictures could be debated, I don't think there's any question it's his most complete effort. Tremendously funny at points, it also tells a straight, coherent story and ties in a stunning successful emotional hook. The laughs aren't quite as loud or as rapid-fire as they were in Spinal Tap; however, the tone also isn't nearly as flippant, which is a major reason why it's able to settle down and deliver something truly sweet at the climax. Of course, the original music is once again outstanding, with lyrics that are more subtly funny and not nearly as brazen, and is spectacularly performed by the cast of ad-lib legends. It's an ensemble piece in every definition of the word, with the mockumentary style of the first sixty minutes providing more than enough background to emotionally invest its audience for the grand finale in Town Hall. Effectively funny and heartwarming in even doses, A Mighty Wind is a great continuation of the troupe's legacy.
  • Comedy in film is one thing which I tend to worry about more than many other factors. Perhaps it is due to the fact that I cannot precisely point out what I want from a comedy film that I feel uneasy watching them, afraid they will disappoint these hidden standards. With that in mind, and with an urge to laugh, I turned to the well trusted Christopher Guest.

    A musical mockumentary, A Mighty Wind covers the organisation of a tribute concert to recently deceased folk music magnate Irving Steinbloom, to be performed by three of the acts he helped launch in the course of his career: The New Main Street Singers; The Folksmen; Mitch & Mickey.

    Both A Mighty Wind and Best in Show, prior to my recent viewings thereof, lingered vaguely in the back of my mind from my first viewings several years ago. I can recall being, back then, thoroughly amused by the films but simultaneously gripped by a sense that so much was passing me by. It is only now that I realise quite how right I was, the layered approach to Guest's comedy ever more evident with the increased wisdom of years. Co-writing with Eugene Levy, and reputedly allowing for a great deal of improvisation, Guest creates a hybrid of comedic styles that keeps you laughing from start to stop. Perhaps it is in the nature of these humorous situations that the film finds its effect. There are no grand set pieces, no tigers in bathrooms. There are only people, behaving in an entirely human manner. Steinbloom's son, determined to give his father the perfect tribute, fusses over every detail of the concert, worrying that perhaps the chosen flowers may prove dangerous to exposed eyeballs. It is the realism of these characters, these situations, and these words that is so achingly funny. We all know people like this, people who would agree with the younger Steinbloom in his assessment of topiary hazards. Guest and co require no fantastical and otherworldly sequences of events to illicit our laughs; they need only reality and the true-to-life characteristics of the people around us. Real life is funnier than anything fantasy can dream up, and the mockumentary format makes A Mighty Wind feel as though this is reality at its most unadulterated. The laughs come fast, hard, and with an emphatic truth that makes them more amusing than just about anything else. This, I think, is the appeal of Guest's directorial work (or at least what I've seen of it), and it is what makes him one of the best comedic filmmakers today. Needless to say his regular cast works astoundingly well together, his reasons for re-using the same actors repeatedly easy to understand. What is truly exceptional about A Mighty Wind, ranking it above the frankly funnier Best in Show and more scathingly reflective For Your Consideration, is its humanity. I dare say nobody who watches this film will ever be able to forget the interminable sweetness of Mitch & Mickey, easily among the greatest screen couples of all time. An utterly compelling and at times quite saddening romantic subplot underscores the film with such a poetic drama that one cannot help but be moved as well as amused. And their song... Oh their song... Words cannot describe.

    With the wonderful humour of Guest's comedies, A Mighty Wind stands head and shoulders above almost all competition. Its humour lies in the reality of its situations, and the normality of its characters. Equipped with a disarmingly charming romance that will test the most hardened of hearts, it also boasts a fantastic soundtrack to compliment this fantastic comedy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A MIGHTY WIND is not a simple sequel to the earlier comedy spoof THIS IS SPINAL TAP. There was nothing in that film that was really moving (the death of the drummers in the band became an occupational hazard after awhile). Instead, A MIGHTY WIND is a bittersweet film about the passing of a briefly appreciated musical trend, but more important the tragedy of two of that trends celebrities in the failure of their marriage. For the marriage of Mitch and Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara) becomes the centerpiece of our attention by the last third of the film.

    The up-beat small town Americana personified in the music of the three groups is not totally dead. One can hear people strumming 1960s kitch even today. But it was supposed to be a tonic to the rock and roll and protest songs of the 50s to the 70s. It just did not have the staying power of those songs. One of the ironies of the film is that Michael McKeon's group is spoofing "The Weavers", but that group (led by Pete Seeger) transcended this kind of music and ended up leading the vanguard of the anti-war protests of the 1960s. When McKeon is approached about a song concerning an incident in the Spanish Civil War that his two partners are not afraid to sing he looks rather put out - he just doesn't think it's their type of music.

    The key to this film's difference from SPINAL TAP is that the numbers are actually just this side of good. One can hear all of them without being turned off by them seeming so naive. This is particularly true of Mitch and Mickey's number regarding the kiss at the end of the rainbow. It actually is moving as sung by them, and (in it's first performance) they did a kiss. It becomes their signature song. But the love that led to their marriage (a love on Levy's part that got him badly beaten defending O'Hara when she was insulted) does not last. Levy's Mitch has a mental problem, and the two divorced. But O'Hara's Mickey always was concerned about him - even after she had a successful second marriage. When he briefly vanishes just before they go on (he went out for some air and to get her a flower) she becomes hysterical thinking he may have gotten hurt. They do the kiss again for the live audience, but it is obvious that they really wanted to. But once they do they revert because they don't want to give each other the wrong signal.

    That business gives a heart to the film totally missing from SPINAL TAP. This does not mean the comedy is not funny - it is on target. The interviews that reveal too much about the people being interviewed. The behavior of the dead impresario's older son who is concerned about whether flower arrangements at Town Hall may lead people to fatally injure themselves tripping over the dangling flowers, or that they will be confused by stage decorations mingling painted banjos that look like they are three dimensional next to real street lamps. The head of Town Hall showing the acoustics by singing "Ave Maria" badly. The belief of two of the singers in some reality involving color and levels of sound. The television network honcho (Ed Begley Jr.) who is Swedish, boasts of some obscure song he wrote that was big on Stockholm song charts years ago, and uses Yiddish words as a kind of proof of his being a producer. It is a wonderful movie, and superior (I feel) for that degree of sadness it reveal in the lives of two star-crossed lovers.
  • The weakest in Guest's series of mockumentaries, but still enjoyable. The casting is predictably clever, but it seems that the improvisation wasn't working that well this time around; there are several scenes that contain nothing even vaguely humorous about them. I like Guest's subtle style, but perhaps AMW's humour is too subtle for its own good. If you're going to go after country music, especially the more commercial crap, then you ought to go for the jugular. No "Police Academy"-type nonsense, of course, but a little more energy would have done the movie good.

    Surprisingly, the folk music version of Spinal Tap, the Folksmen, were among the least funny in the movie! More interesting was Higgins playing the colour-worshipper, and the annoyed theater manager.

    I was disappointed that Guest even tried to inject some soppy sentimentality into the Mickey/Mitch story; perhaps a sign of Guest's aging? Empty schmaltz should be left to shoddy TV sitcoms like "Friends", it has absolutely no place in intelligent parody/satire. Levy's character seemed wacky enough to create a plethora of silly situations and dialogue, but this potential was left largely unused.

    AMW is, however, the type of comedy that gets better on additional viewing. Guest's follow-up about Hollywood is better. Perhaps country music wasn't such a good idea...
  • An 8 is very good, I'm stingy with 9 and 10, which I've awarded maybe twice.

    Christopher Guest has established a signature device in the three films Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, and A Mighty Wind. He has his characters espousing ridiculous beliefs, philosophies, and observations with deadpan innocent earnestness; or sharing anecdotes from their lives that would make us cringe if we were actually face to face with them, but which they imagine to be moving or illuminating. The whole point is that we are most definitely laughing at them, not with them.

    I think Guest has done his best yet with this favorite motif in A Mighty Wind. I'm very hard to please with comedy, and I think the vast majority of them fail. I laughed out loud any number of times here.

    A surprising added element is a mildly serious and rather moving backstory involving the legendary (fictional) folk duo, Mitch and Mickey. This dramatic thread only enriches the film and in no way detracts from the comedy. It's very well handled; Guest brings this element into the movie in just the right measure. It is not contrived, false, and jarring as is true for so many comedies nowadays that also try to move us at some point.

    This brings me to the most pleasing surprise of this film, and surprised I was, almost dumbfounded, and that would be the performance of Eugene Levy as Mitch. Please know I am not a gusher, I'm not somebody who is constantly writing in these reviews how "amazing!" everybody and their brother was in some movie. But honest-to-God, I found myself wondering, did Levy's part here get any notice from the Academy? Seriously, I can hardly believe I'm writing this, but I've seen actors get nominated for supporting roles in drama whose acting turns were not as impressive as Eugene Levy playing Mitch Cohen in A Mighty Wind. I kept waiting for him to screw up, to turn into a comedian playing a silly part, to ham it up I suppose you could say, and it never happened. His character was unique, original, subtle, and surprisingly complex for what little information we were given, and he never diverted from it, he never broke the spell. Kudos to Eugene Levy of all people for a really fine acting turn.

    On the lighter side...and last comment...Fred Willard, outstanding. This is almost certainly politically incorrect, but I can think of no other comedian who is as advanced in age as he is who is precisely as funny in a movie, and elsewhere, as any younger actor around. His turn here as the schlocky, cheesy talent agent is one of the best things I've ever seen him do. I defy any younger comedian to best Willard at what he's turned in for A Mighty Wind.
  • angler-29 December 2005
    Eugene Levy as "Mitch" of Mitch and Mickey, is nothing short of brilliant in the character he has created. Actually, less created than inhabited. Though clearly teetering on the edge of sanity, he manages to keep a tenuous grip on reality. His eyes, his voice, his hands--every inch of Eugene is invested in the character. Even after having seen this film several times, and enjoying it each and every time, I always get the feeling that one never knows what Mitch is going to say or do next, and it's because Mitch doesn't know either.

    It has been said that comedy is tragedy that happens to someone else. In this case, Mitch's tragedy is our comedy. I can't help both laughing and feeling sorry for the character. Eugene Levy's Mitch is a creation of pure genius.
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