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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big and stupid. And clever. VERY, VERY clever.
Alright, I'm not going to bore you with the details or story of this sublime Reiner "documentary," nor am I going to babble on and on about how spot-on a parody of NWOBHM (that's "New Wave Of British Heavy Metal" to the uninitiated) this is.
Instead, I will offer you some quotes. Those alone should give you plenty of insight as to why this is one of the greatest...
Published on July 6 2004 by Shotgun Method

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Dated humor...
It doesn't help that I've been watching Christopher Guest's films in reverse chronological order starting with Best in Show, then Waiting for Guffman, and now This is Spinal Tap. I would think this film broke new ground in the rockumentary/mockumentary genre *at* the time. It takes the audience through daily life with the rock group called Spinal Tap. The movie is shot...
Published on Aug. 23 2002 by Alvin Tanhehco


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big and stupid. And clever. VERY, VERY clever., July 6 2004
By 
Shotgun Method (NY... No, not *that* NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: This is Spinal Tap (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
Alright, I'm not going to bore you with the details or story of this sublime Reiner "documentary," nor am I going to babble on and on about how spot-on a parody of NWOBHM (that's "New Wave Of British Heavy Metal" to the uninitiated) this is.
Instead, I will offer you some quotes. Those alone should give you plenty of insight as to why this is one of the greatest movies of all time. To wit:
"Oh, there actually is, uh... there was a Saint Hubbins?"
"That's right, yes."
"What was he the saint of?"
"He was the patron saint of quality footwear."
"You know, just simple lines intertwining, you know, very much like - I'm really influenced by Mozart and Bach, and it's sort of in between those, really. It's like a Mach piece, really. It's sort of..."
"What do you call this?"
"Well, this piece is called "Lick My Love Pump".

"As long as there's, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the rock and roll."
"Here lies David St. Hubbins... and why not?"

"Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported."
"It's like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black."
"We are Spinal Tap from the UK - you must be the USA!"
"You can't really dust for vomit."
"This pretentious ponderous collection of religious rock psalms is enough to prompt the question, 'What day did the Lord create Spinal Tap, and couldn't he have rested on that day too?'"
And of course: "Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
"These go to eleven."

Not laughing? Well, the visuals are even funnier--malfunctioning stage props, a guitar solo that probably singlehandedly gave birth to the "neo-classical" shred style, unique ways to use a violin, and of course lots and lots of retarded sexuality and bad poetry. Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Derek Shearer absolutely NAIL it. Everybody should have this film. Especially metalheads who aren't afraid to have a good, long laugh at themselves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rockin' and Mockin', July 4 2004
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This review is from: This is Spinal Tap (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
When this film was originally released, its targets were hard rock bands like Whitesnake and Dio, along with overly pretentious concert films like The Last Waltz and Song Remains the Same. 20 years later, the film still holds up - and practically everything in it could apply to newer bands like the Darkness, and VH1's ridiculous Behind the Music TV series. Why? The cast and creators manage to walk the fine line between satire and homage while staying in love with the spirit of rock n'roll. Sure, band members Nigel, David, and Derek may be half-witted hacks but we love them because they reflect not only most of our rock heroes - but our rock fantasies as well. There's a sense of joy in this film that's absent in many 'serious' rock bands and films that are soon forgotten. Director Rob Reiner was also smart enough not to aim for a constant barrage of one-liners and slapstick. There's actually a story and a subtext here that most parody films totally lack. The DVD comes with a grab-bag of Spinal Tap goodies, including a hilarious commentary track and rock videos. This one's a comedy for the ages.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Comedy Classic!, May 3 2004
By 
Scott Schiefelbein (Portland, Oregon United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: This is Spinal Tap (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
"This is Spinal Tap" is one of the most original, subtle, hilarious movies you will ever see, and offers more great quotes than any film this side of "Fletch."
A "mockumentary," "Tap" is pure fiction. But it's fiction that captures some universal truths about the relentless pursuit of a dream, even while the rest of the world is screaming at you to wake up.
Marty DeBergi (Rob Reiner) is "producing" this documentary about Spinal Tap, "one of Europe's loudest bands." We see Reiner travel with the band on tour to promote its newest album, "Smell the Glove," and he gets to interview the band at great length -- in no small part because most of their gigs appear to be canceled.
The music, written and performed by actors Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins on lead vocals and guitar), Christopher Guest (lead guitar Nigel Tufnel), and Harry Shearer (bassist Derek Smalls) is a hilarous reprise of various genres of rock and roll, heavy on the power-rock of the '70s ("Sex Farm," "Stonehenge," "Big Bottom"), with a little psychedelic feel-good rock in there too ("Listen to the Flower People"). One of the best soundtracks ever, these songs skewer the performers as well as those you who were fans of this kind of music when it was big.
The album is released, the tour kicks off, and the wheels begin to fall off. Many scenes are legendary. "Hello Cleveland!" -- when the band can't find the stage. "But these go to eleven" -- Nigel explains why his amplifiers have more power than the next guys. "It's okay, Boston's not a big college town" -- when the band learns their next gig was canceled. "It's a fine line between stupid and clever" -- debating artistic choices made by the band. "Puppet show and Spinal Tap" -- the sign announcing the band's next gig. "Spinal Tap, currently residing in our 'Where are they now?' file" -- while the band (on tour) listens to the radio play one of their old songs. And so on and so forth.
If you have the good fortune of knowing a professional musician, ask them about "Tap." Odds are, without saying any more, you're going to see a wide smile and start getting the quotes. The filmmakers' understanding of (and affection for) life on the road in the music business is eerie.
A comedy essential that must be part of any DVD collection. The DVD is full of extras, including some hilarious dialogue from the band over the opening menu!
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2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been better, April 6 2004
This review is from: This is Spinal Tap (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
I have followed Spinal Tap very sporadically over the years, mostly since their buzz after the release of this film (I honestly remember hearing very little about them during the seventies). After viewing this documentary, I believe the filmmaker could have done better both in his editing choices and his choice of bands.
While Spinal Tap is capable of turning out the occasional catchy tune, it's obvious watching this film that they were/are basically one-trick ponies. Whether that's the fault of the editor, I can't say. I will say that viewing this film made me only want the hits (collected on the film's soundtrack) and it did not give me the desire to seek out their earlier work ("Shark Sandwich" and "Intravenous De Milo", both of which seem to be out of print anyway).
I guess my real complaint is with the filmmakers, as I'm wondering why they chose to cover such a little-known group when there were perfectly acceptable alternatives: Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Eddie Money, and/or Motorhead. Spinal Tap may have been an interesting story, but they're hardly a band worth making immortal through film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is One of the Funniest Films of All Time!, Jan. 8 2004
This review is from: This is Spinal Tap (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
One of the funniest films of all time, and certainly one of the cleverest, "This is Spinal Tap" is as equally hysterical and subtle today as it was twenty years ago, back when Rob Reiner was pretty much known for his iconic role on the television show "All in the Family" -- not yet for "The Princess Bride," "When Harry Met Sally...", "A Few Good Men," and certainly not for being an excellent director. (Now, by 2004, his films have occupied many of the various AFI lists, including the best romance films and comedies.)
"This is Spinal Tap" was the first of its kind -- a so-called "rockumentary" following the dissipation of a terrible British hard rock band during the mid-80s, with songs like "Sex Farm" ample proof of their considerably awful talent.
Tons of bands like Spinal Tap were popular during the 1980s, then soon fell out of the public eye. Not many of them even had much talent at all -- just drugged-out band members and lots of rebellious attitudes as their primary advertising campaign.
Because Spinal Tap is so close to reality, and because it is so ridiculously ironic and yet far-fetched, it has achieved a massive army of fans and even a famed Criterion Collection DVD (now out of print, unfortunately). The film was never exactly a smash at the box office, but its popularity -- like so many famous films -- grew rapidly over the years since its release, having gradual re-releases (the sure-fire sign of a cult film) and lots of fake reunion concerts. (One of which was recently released onto a DVD.)
Legend has it that after the film was released in 1984, people often came up to Rob Reiner on the street and they would say, "I really liked your movie, but I wish you would have chosen a more popular band to do a film on."
Yes, Spinal Tap is absolutely false. It's not a real band. But it's hard to tell at times. Some people don't like the film because they find it too real -- but I think that's the whole idea.
As the film fades into focus, we are introduced to Marty DiBergi (Reiner), a documentary film maker who was drawn to Spinal Tap, the UK heavy metal rock band, early on in their career -- he admired their "loud" songs and now, at the height of their career, he is setting out to record their private lives that exist behind the stage.
The three main rockers are Nigel (Christopher Guest), David (Michael McKean), and Derek (Harry Shearer), who go around the world on rock tours, inspiring lots of loud noise amongst fans and upsetting a lot of people -- like the limo driver played by Bruno Kirby ("The Godfather Part II") in a pre-"When Harry Met Sally" cameo. (Billy Crystal also makes a cameo as a mime waiter in one of the most subtle scenes -- look quick, you might miss him.)
The cast performed all their own songs, as well as writing them. Guest, McKean and Shearer are all gifted musicians -- but they're also pretty funny. Part of what makes this film so effective on repeat viewings is that you're guaranteed to find some things you didn't notice last time. John Hughes once said that he liked to place small background quirks in his films (such as the crawling mice in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles") so that, on repeat viewings on television, someone watching might drift from the main focus of the film to the background of the sequence -- and there's the hidden gag that isn't even all that funny, just...different.
Your first viewing of "Spinal Tap" might be less than enthusastic. But I beg of you, watch it again, take a chance to open your ears more, pay attention to small things in the background, and listen to those songs the guys are singing. That's where much of the comedy lies. This is a film that is definitely worth owning for such purposes.
Speaking of hidden elements, much has been said -- or rather implied -- about the homosexuality of Nigel. When David's girlfriend joins them for the tour, his heart sinks because he loves him. I dunno, I've always thought it was because they were childhood friends and Nigel doesn't want anyone to take David away from him for friendship reasons. (Although the line "We're closer than brothers..." makes you wonder.)
This mockumentary formula has been re-created time and time again since "This is Spinal Tap," even in films such as "The Blair Witch Project."
But the mockumentary style has been mimicked particularly by Guest, who starred in -- and directed -- "Waiting for Guffman," "Best in Show," and most recently, 2003's "A Mighty Wind." Michael McKean and Harry Shearer returned for these entries, and I'm thinking that the next film should be a collaborative effort, and should reunite everyone from "Spinal Tap" for a 20-year anniversary -- Reiner, Guest, McKean, Shearer, the cast from Guest's mockumentaries, and perhaps even Crystal and Kirby, et al., in cameos. I'm sure more than a few people would go to see it. And, unlike so many other films, it is one that actually deserves a sequel. And probably one that would be just as funny as the first. And one that would have a purpose, other than being just another cash-in. Anyone interested in what happened to the band members twenty years after their downfall? I know I do.
But this is getting off the point, and the point is that none of these Guest mockumentaries -- as good as they are -- come close to the pure greatness of "This is Spinal Tap," and "A Mighty Wind" -- although funny -- started to show signs of formula aging. But "This is Spinal Tap" was, is, and always shall be, the granddaddy of the mockumentaries. It's the "Psycho" of mockumentaries, and actually a lot of "regular" comedies, too.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "We are Spinal Tap of the UK! You must be the USA!!", Jan. 6 2004
This review is from: This is Spinal Tap (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
I know this sounds trite, but this DVD truly goes to eleven...
Ever since the Beatles came to America almost 40 years ago, pop culture has been fascinated with English rockers. So in the early 1980's, when spandex and makeup were coming into play in the Brit rock world, it seemed only natural to make a mock-rockumentary; it was "THIS IS SPINAL TAP". And boy, what a hoot it is. To this day, almost 20 years later, this movie is still very enjoyable, with its satire, silliness, and, actually, realism. Yes, many rock musicians have noted how realistic the movie is. Many of them admitted it on "I Love The '80s".
As for the movie's humour, it's not for everyone. (See some of the one-star reviews written by rocket scientists who think Spinal Tap was a real band.) It's kinda dry. But if you get it (like I do), then it's hysterical. Take, for instance, the following:
Nigel showing Marty DeBergi his guitars/amps.
Marty reading off some negative reviews for Spinal Tap albums.
The band taking the stage in Cleveland.
The infamous Stonehedge moment.
Priceless. This is actually brilliant humour; something that not every Chris, Mike, and Harry could pull off. (Get it?)
As for the music itself: Spinal Tap may have been a fictional band, but they might as well have been real. After all, the entire soundtrack was written/recorded by the actual actors. (That's right, that's really Chris Guest doing that solo.) ROCK AND ROLL!
So if you like rock & roll and laughter, check out this DVD. (Lots of cool bonus features too!) It may take a couple of watches for the humour to sink in, but trust me, it will. Now I'll close this review with a quote from Megadeth's Dave Mustaine:
"You know a tour's going bad when you start getting flashes in your head of Spinal Tap!"
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2.0 out of 5 stars "Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year.", Nov. 15 2003
This review is from: This is Spinal Tap (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
Rob Reiner's "This Is Spinal Tap" is a cult film that truly does contain many moments of manic inspiration. However, its premise outshines its execution. While its fictional documentary format is novel, the film itself is only partially successful. There are several sequences that make you chuckle but precious few sequences that produce any laugh-out-loud moments. In the end, "This is Spinal Tap" is a form over substance film.
Filmmaker Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiner) makes the band Spinal Tap the subject of a documentary. The band is on their first American tour in six years and counts among its members David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), and Mick Shrimpton (R.J. Parnell). Nothing really goes as planned on the tour as fans don't turn up for an autograph session, their album "Smell the Glove" has trouble making it into stores, difficulties arise in the design of a stage prop, and a concert stop is scheduled for a military hanger. Yet with all this chaos erupting around them, the band members remain oblivious to their plight.
"This Is Spinal Tap" is a film that becomes more and more strained as it goes on. The fictional documentary joke starts to wear thin after the first initial chuckles. The acting is great and the cameos by Fran Drescher, Paul Shaffer, Anjelica Huston, and Fred Willard are amusing but there is little energy to help sustain the film for its 82-minute running time. "This Is Spinal Tap" is not funny enough to be a successful comedy and not clever enough to be a successful satire. The film is merely adequate and, unlike the band itself which is saved at the end by their Japanese fans, is never salvaged before it concludes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cult classic, Nov. 5 2003
By 
Dennis Littrell (SoCal/NorCal/Maui) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spinal Tap (VHS Tape)
This is probably not as funny as it once was, unfortunately, at least to a younger generation. And frankly, considering all that has come to past in rock and roll, it seems a little tame, even a little on the lame side in places. Or perhaps I have grown too jaded. Since Rob Reiner dreamed up this "pseudo-rockumentary" (after affixing some gold paint strategically on the USS Coral Seas baseball cap he wears--one of the many sight gags in the movie) the satirical assault on rock culture as been done and done again, perhaps a time or two too many.
The music itself is, shall we say, derivative with the Stones, some early Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, and others having some distant unavoidable influence, while the unwashed antics of the stars both on stage and off have become cliches of the biz. Worse yet, satirizing the documentary mode itself has been done to death.
Alas, can we have back those moments of splendor in the grass (Wordsworth) or when we first leaned back in the movie theater, the smell of rancid popcorn butter in our nose, and sticky soda corn syrup on the soles of our shoes, and got blasted away by Spinal Tap? No, Virginia, you can't go home again, sad to say.
Might as well jump (Van Halen, 1984).
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's a fine line between stupid and clever, Oct. 14 2003
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: This is Spinal Tap (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
Spinal Tap. Not your everyday mulleted metal-rockers -- oh no, they're the loudest. Or so says Marti DiBergi (played with a straight face by director Rob Reiner), in a hysterical "rockumentary" that focuses on the dumber side of rock'n'roll.
Spinal Tap, the loudest band in Britain, is returning to the US for the first time in years to promote their new album, "Smell The Glove." Trailing behind them is DiBergi, capturing every strange moment on film and interviewing the solemnly strange trio that makes up the core, Nigel Tufnell (Christopher Guest), Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), and David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean). Their many drummers have died in a series of bizarre freak accidents (including the vague "gardening accident," choking on someone else's vomit, and spontaneous combustion).
Charting the history of the band (including psychedelic rock) to the present, DiBergi chronicles the controversy that springs up around "Smell the Glove"'s sexist cover ("What's wrong with being sexy?" "Sex-IST!") with a naked woman being force to smell a black glove. After bizarre mishaps (a Stonehenge set the size of a cat), waning popularity and falling sales, the manager quits in anger and Nigel walks out. Is it the end of Spinal Tap?
To make things even better, rock in-jokes are sprinkled liberally through the movie. There are homages to Black Sabbath (the teeny Stonehenge), Eric Clapton (Nigel's name), Led Zeppelin (playing a guitar with a violin), and countless other little jokes. Even Jeanine is based on famed rock girlfriends (like Yoko Ono and Anita Pallenberg). The humor is deliciously barbed, but not cruelly.
In one of the best DVD releases I've yet seen, "This is Spinal Tap"'s special edition includes not only massive amounts of cut footage, all of which is quite good (many "uncut" movies are just bloated) although certainly not absolutely necessary. The commentary is even funnier, where the actors speak as if they were their characters, watching a REAL rockumentary.
The humor is all the funnier because it's delivered in a deadpan manner, like when Nigel shows off the amplifier that goes to 11, or when a desperate roadie tries to break Derek out of the plastic pod he's trapped in. (Not to mention the cucumber incident) The driver obsessed with Frank Sinatra is a nice touch, an example of those who claimed rock was just a fad. And of course, the original album that will haunt Metallica forever-- the Black Album, completely dark. (It's a close-up of the glove!)
And the music actually surpasses that which inspires it. Pretty much all of the songs are musically sound. If you can get past the wonderfully stupid lyrics (and Nigel's druid monologue) without laughing, you're much tougher than I am. Not to mention gems like "Gimme Some Money," "Sex Farm," "Listen To The Flower People," and the sidesplitting "Big Bottom" ("Big bottoms drive me out of my mind/how could I leave that behind?").
"This is Spinal Tap" with leave you with many deep questions like "why can't you dust for vomit?" Just kidding. But it will leave you laughing and grinning as you listen to Nigel and David deconstructing racism and loving your brother. It doesn't get much better than this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, Sept. 28 2003
By 
A. Tomsho (PA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: This is Spinal Tap (Widescreen) [Import] (DVD)
I've seen that a lot of people really enjoyed this movie. Some really hated it. I noticed, oddly, that most of the people who hated it simply said it was "not funny" and didn't bother to elaborate. They expect influence so many people with just a couple sentences? One reviewer in particular actually submitted an extra review, just to diss people who liked the movie. Real mature. You're entitled to you opinion, but at least try to be dignified about it.
I myself think Spinal Tap is genius. It's a satire of the rock'n'roll industry in the 1980's, an era in which headbanging metal and hair bands were very popular. It was the era of Ozzy Osbourne's first years in a solo career, Randy Rhoads, Twisted Sister, Metallica, and as time went on more bands and artist would join the list such as the now legendary premier lead gutiarist of heavy metal Zakk Wylde.
All of this had certain unifying themes that Rob Reiner manages to touch upon. To quote Michael McKean's character, "There's such a fine line between clever and stupid." In the '80s this was particularly true. Heavy metal bands churning out songs with no meaning or talented musicianship behind them, and huge hits from bands who worked hard to create them like Scorpions and Rush.
Spinal Tap was a look at the comically stupid side of rock'n'roll. All the band members were idiots on and off-stage. They were pretentious, arrogant, and irritable when things didn't go their way. This is the way so many rockers go.
There were also a lot of little scenes that touched on other topics. Nigel's cacophonous guitar solo where he played a distortion-drenched Flying V, kicked the strings on an SG sitting by, then played the V by bowing it with a violin was a parody of the distorted, screaming solos heavy metal bands became so famous for.
Sadly, a lot of this humor seems lost on some people, as you'll see in some of the negative reviews. Derek didn't place the cucumber in his pants to make people think he had a huge package. He was just messing with the guards' heads. Do you want to tell someone in an airport to take their pants off?
Another thing I thought was funny was that a lot of the songs created for the movie actually turned out to be better than works by the very bands that Rob Reiner was trying to parody. My particular favorites were Rock'n'Roll Creation and Stonehenge. Hell, I'm learning guitar myself and I'm trying to track down the tablature for those two.
The humor may seem a little dated, but for those of you can think from the perspective of the time period this is set in, it's very well-done. It helps to watch it a couple times. It helps absorb all the humor and see to the point of several jokes you might have missed the first time.
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