Nobody can destroy the joy of movies quite like a film professor. For a short book, Ethan de Seife's analysis of This is Spinal Tap feels mind-numbingly long, mostly because it repeats itself. A handful of points (Tap owes a lot to cinema verite; Tap simultaneously uses and breaks the rules of both conventional and documentary filmmaking) get overexplained with new and fancier words, like a grade-school book report stretching to meet its minimum word count with the use of a very large thesaurus (A sample: "The formlessness of alleged actuality is rendered more cinematically palatable by the use of mechanisms of narrative"). There are some interesting insights -- the film's parallel with traditional Hollywood musicals was well presented, and the author does a good job of looking at the rock culture the film lampoons -- but many of the insights from the filmmakers are lifted straight from the DVD commentaries, and better told by them than regurgitated by a stuffy academic. Rarely engaging to the reader, it's simply too overwritten and self-important to be enjoyable.