Tuesday, July 04, 2006

This is Spinal Tap

1984, US, directed by Rob Reiner

Rating: **

Proof that not everything ages well, This is Spinal Tap these days seems horribly dated and, unfortunately, nowhere near as consistently amusing (never mind flat-out funny) as its reputation might indicate. Even at 82 minutes, it sometimes seems tortuous, especially in the repetitive middle patch (when the semblance of a plot is introduced, late on, things pick up somewhat). The fact that the clichés of rock documentaries are so accurately skewered seems almost beside the point: since they are generally so tedious to start with, the notion of replaying them to comic effect is hardly welcome. There are intermittent moments of brilliance (the scene in which they discuss amplifiers that "go up to eleven" remains as funny as ever, for instance), but the characters (unlike those in Christopher Guest's later mockumentaries) are generally so unsympathetic that it's really an effort to remain in their company. Ultimately, too, the filmmakers aren't quite sure what effect they're looking for: the marriage of po-faced interview spoofery and absurdly puerile song lyrics is less than effective.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States