on July 7, 2004
Hey Amazon censor - "buttocks" is not a bad word. Lighten up :-)
"Waiting For Guffman" is another Christopher Guest-and-ensemble-cast mockumentary, this time involving community theater in Blaine, Missouri, "the stool capital of the world."
There was no real script, but the actors did have certain plot-points to work around, and they pull off a very funny movie.
The musical in the movie, entitled "Red, White, and Blaine" is to be performed on the 150th anniversary of the founding of the town of Blaine, which involved cross-country wagoneers who at night believed they had reached the Pacific ocean, but when the sun rose they discovered they did not quite make it, subsequent quality stool manufacturing, and alien abduction.
There is the crop-circle scientist who explains that although the diameter and circumference change slightly, the radius is always the same, as is the weather - "when you step into that circle it is always 67 degrees with a 40 percent chance of rain - always".
There is the alien abductee (perhaps my favorite part) played by Paul Dooley. He had the misfortune to be probed by many aliens (though not all at once) which leads to his buttocks being numb on Sundays.
Cast regular Eugene Levy plays a Jewish dentist, and Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara are husband and wife travel agents who have never been outside Blaine. Bob Balaban plays the straight-laced local music teacher who is somewhat put upon trying to get Christopher Guest (Corky, the show's director) to hold proper rehearsals. Parker Posey is the local Dairy Queen employee with dreams of stardom and a father in prison.
The group goes through the audition process for their role in the musical, then rehearsals, and finally the performance, during which they anticipate the arrival of an influential NY drama critic, Mort Guffman - hence the title.
There are a lot of funny little moments, such as Corky wearing those big pants and doing his little dance, or Levy singing "I Dream of Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair", or rehearsing his "how high a ridge I could not tell" line, or Willard talking about his reduction surgery and trying to show it to Eugene Levy who retorts in a Johnny Carson voice..."Medicin man not go near...'Dances With Stumpy'.
Much of the show music was written by Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer from "Spinal Tap" fame.
The DVD had deleted scenes with optional commentary, a text-based behind the scenes, a commentary by Guest and Levy, subtitles and a trailer.
"I'll tell you why I can't put up with you people. Because you're (...) people. That's what you are. You're just (...) people, and I'm goin' home and I gonna - I'm gonna bite my pillow, is what I'm gonna do!"
on June 4, 2004
Haven't you been paying attention? It's Midnight at the Oasis!
I originally wrote that this film is too deadpan and straight for my liking, especially coupled with a commentary that I still find rather boring. However, I think this is the best thing about these movies and Guest's personality in general. Most movies like this play down to their audience, continually winking at them and patting them on the back for getting all the jokes. Waiting for Guffman is so off the wall that it can play to any audience but a certain kind of people will get all the jokes and non-jokes (a term that I use for dialogue and scenes that don't have explicit jokes in them but have a humorous bent: take the scene with David Cross, for example).
Anything with Fred Willard is classic. Eugene Levy saying he was not the class clown, but sat near the class clown and studied him. And of course, "what do your keen and perceptive eyes see?"
Bestin Show is probably the funniest (not counting This is Spinal Tap), while A Mighty Wind is probably the most touching, feels the most complete and polished. Waiting for Guffman is so subdued though, which is why it's great. There's still a lot of laugh-out-loud (especially if you're a first time viewer, or the first time in a while) moments, and the ending is one of the best comedy endings of all time.
I love the little moments here, (Catherine O'Hara's little speech about "less is more" acting, Fred Willard telling Dr. Pearl "this is my wife Sheila, you may remember her from previous bills") there's just something so pure about these movies that makes them rewatchable. It's a pretty good movie, but keep in mind it's pretty rough and in my opinion the "worst" of the mockumentaries.
On the DVD side of things, I couldn't help but think the commentary was, well, boring. There was a lot of dead time. Guest seemed so bored during the recording, then again he could've just been kidding. We learn of the movie's incredibly small budget and cramped shooting schedule, however. And the deleted scenes are a treat, my favorite probably being the "Nothing Ever Happens in Blaine" song. Aside from that, there's little else, though. But the disc is pretty good (and cheap), so it's a no-brainer purchase. Get it.
I didn't enjoy "For Your Consideration" but I decided to give director Christopher Guest another chance by seeing "Waiting for Guffman." Guest plays as Corky a quirky stage director celebrates his small town's history by putting on a play featuring local residents. Having recruiting a fun cast of SCTV and SNL make this one of the most creative comedies I've seen. It has many funny moments, especially from Corky. At times, I'm sure what the actors had to go through was embarrassing, especially when Willard and O'Hara were doing their duet. A way that that was put into perspective for me was when our school put on a performance of `Bye Bye Birdie', and the person who played Gloria Rasputin, a glitzy dancer who is not very good, commented how embarrassing it was to be bad.
The photography was amateurish, especially in the beginning, but that gave it a more authentic feel to the documentary-type it is. However, if this is all supposed to be a documentary, then there are a few shots that don't seem right. The townspeople are knocking on Corky's door, and then we see Corky sitting in the bathtub. Also, right after scene was done in the musical; we follow the actors going backstage. If the camera was just in the audience, how can it get on stage?
Much of the dialogue was obviously improvised, and it tells. Whenever someone just got a whiff, they went on to talk about whatever, and it's often very funny. Some of the deleted scenes on the DVD are just improv, especially from Fred Willard, who is just hilarious.
Something that makes this different from other movies is that there is no background music, because this is supposed to be a documentary. It really put more of an authentic feel. Another point that I loved is the combination of a regular movie and an ensemble movie. Instead of having some well-developed characters or no characters to care about, Guest put in deep characters, that have back-stories that we actually care about, and it's amazing that he can put all of it in 80 minutes. "Waiting for Guffman" is a very funny piece that isn't as much about the bad actors but the interesting story that goes on behind the scenes. If you enjoy quirky pictures that can be uneven but also funny, this is your type of movie.
on May 3, 2004
If you are a devotee of Christopher Guest's films ("This is Spinal Tap," "Best in Show"), this is a must-have DVD. Guest's unique "mockumentaries" are among the most original, hilarious films out there, and while there are some who don't "get" the humor, I find them to be hilarious.
"WFG" is the tale of the sesquecentennial (150th anniversary) of Blaine, Missouri, which was founded when a less-than-intrepid bunch of pioneers mistakenly thought they had reached the Pacific Ocean. From casting calls through the end of the "big show," (including a Herculean snit by Corky that must be seen to be believed) we meet the typical bunch of Guestian misfits who want to "put on a show" for the anniversary -- the travel agents who have never left Blaine, the dentist who mistakenly thinks he's always the funniest guy in the room, the DQ soda queen with visions of L.A., and the director, Corky St. Claire. Corky, played by Guest, is actually one of the weak points in the film because he is so over-the-top (allegedly married to a distant and never-seen spouse, he shops for all her clothes) that he unbalances the rest of the cast.
The strength of these mockumentaries is that the cast is all equally bizarre. The rock band in "Spinal Tap" was insane, but they were all more or less living in the same insane parallel universe. Similarly, the dog afficionados in "Best in Show" were all equally bitten by the dog-show bug. In "Guffman," it's clear that no matter what, Corky is always going to be the biggest space cadet in whatever galaxy he's moving through.
This is not to say that there are not some hilarious moments. Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara are priceless as the travel agent-and-drunk-spouse who have visions of L.A. dancing in their heads. Parkey Posey (the DQ chick) and Corky have a hilariously saccharine duet in the "big show." And some of the throw-away moments (Corky's adoring male fan comparing Corky to Streisand) are priceless.
But the standard for Guest's films is very high. "Tap" and "Best in Show" are some of the most quotable movies I've ever seen, and "Guffman" just doesn't have the meat on the bones that these other films have. Still, an "average" Guest comedy is better than most other fare.
on April 12, 2004
Blaine, Missouri, the proud Stool Capital of the World, is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and to honor the town and its momentous anniversary, the locals decide to put on a play.
Once again, the comedic genius of Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy comes to the fore as we watch the auditions, the rehearsals and the actual play itself. The mock-documentary style so perfected by Guest is perfect in this outing, as the straight-faced, oh-so-serious townspeople discuss themselves, their town (whose history is so funny that I was literally yelping with laughter) and the play.
And who is Guffman? A real-life Broadway producer, who is coming to view the show...and who knows what this could lead to? Outstanding acting by Catherine O'Hara, Guest, Levy, and all the usual ensemble makes for a comedic masterpiece. Keep your hand on the remote control, however. The dialogue is so funny that you may find yourself rewinding to hear the bits you've missed--over and over again.
The deleted scenes are as good as the movie, and provide so much enjoyment on their own that they should be released as a separate entity! Ditto for the oh-so-serious voice-over commentary by writers (and actors) Guest and Levy. This DVD is simply a treat from end to end.
This 1997 outing is as good, in my view, as the brilliant "A Mighty Wind," and certainly worthy of "This Is Spinal Tap." A must-have!
"Waiting for Guffman" is generally considered the follow-up to the now-legendary rockumentary "This is Spinal Tap." Despite having a different director (this gem is directed by its star, Christopher Guest), iut has the same brand of straight-faced hilarity from one hysterical moment to the next. It's one of the funniest and most underrated films of the 1990s.
The dinky but proud town of Blaine Missouri (the "footstool capitol" of the world) is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a (for them) major celebration of civic pride. Self-exiled theatrical producer Corky St. Claire (Guest) happens to be living in this town, after the failure of his last New York show (he almost burned it down). Corky sees this as an opportunity to get back to Broadway, by creating the historical musical "Red, White and Blaine." In theory, the musical will outline the town's history (complete with a visit by President McKinley and UFOs... on different occasions, of course).
Corky is even more elated when a Broadway scout, Mr. Guffman, is supposed to arrive to gauge "Red White and Blaine's" Broadway potential. This is his ticket out of there... and ditto for the slightly odd citizens who are cast in the play: a deadpan Dairy Queen clerk (Parker Posey), a pair of bickering travel agents (Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard), and a dentist with a lazy eye (the incomparable Eugene Levy). Despite a round of problems, cast losses, and the temporary loss of an irate Corky, the show must go on. But will Mr. Guffman arrive in time to see it?
In small relatively unknown towns, the people often dream of big things. Quite a few of them also have intense civic pride over stuff that nobody else could care less about (crop circles?). The heart of "Waiting For Guffman" is poking fun at the absurdities of middle America, but not a cruel way. You laugh with the "ship of fools," not at them.
Every scene in this movie brims with deadpan hilarity -- all the more striking because of all the ad-libbing that went on. The humor is not the fart-joke variety; it includes everything from Ron's... well, reduction surgery to "We consider ourselves bi-coastal if you consider the Mississippi River one of the coasts." It's pure brilliance from beginning to end -- especially the end, when we get to see the "Red White and Blaine" musical. Guest's comic talent is in full bloom there.
Guest is the soul of this film -- his flamboyant, arty theatrical producer is a big fish trying to get out the tiny pond. Fred Willard (in his usual grinning obnoxious dolt role) and Catherine O'Hara are hysterical as a not-so-happily married couple. And Eugene Levy -- always a treat -- is subtlely funny every time he makes his eye wander.
Underrated and brimming over with kindly satire, "Waiting for Guffman" is rivalled only by "Spinal Tap." A comedy treasure.
on February 29, 2004
"Waiting For Guffman" is in no doubt a great film. From the direction of Christopher Guest (Best In Show) to the superb acting (Eugene Levy, Christopher Guest, Bob Balaban, Parker Posey), this movie is definitely great.
Christopher Guest likes to mock a lot of things in life. For example, he made fun about dogs and their owners in "Best In Show". In "Waiting For Guffman", he tries to poke fun at regional theater. This is by far my favorite of his movies. It has classic lines, colorful characters, and a great story.
Blaine, Missouri is America, or so that's what the town's folks think. Shortly coming is the 150th Anniversary of Blaine, and that means the flamboyant Corky St. Clair (Guest) will be putting on a show on how Blaine started. Corky has had backround experience in many shows and the people think he can pull it off. His assistant and musical director is Lloyd Miller (Bob Balaban) who used to direct the shows, but is now just the "music director" which "is different for him".
Soon, many people want to be a part of "Red, White, and Blaine" (the name of the show). Two travel agents, Ron and Sheila Alberton (Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara), a Dairy Queen hostess, Libby Mae Brown (Parker Posey), a dentist, Dr. Allan Pearl (Eugene Levy), a rebel, Johnny Savage (Matt Keeslar), and an old veteran of Blaine, Clifford Wooley (Lewis Arquette), all land parts in the show.
As the show comes closer, Corky brings news that Mort Guffman will be coming to see the show. Guffman works on Broadway and he wants to see if "Red, White, And Blaine" has what it takes to go all the way. The cast and crew are very excited and can't wait for Guffman to be there.
Plot - The plot is very simple, nothing complex here, but it is fresh. It was something new and funny. I totally enjoyed everything that happened in this film from Allan Pearl's "lazy eye" to "I'm going to do a seen from the movie, Raging Bull..". It's all good and never stopped me from laughing. Plot - 96
Acting - The acting was outstanding. Christopher Guest is awesome as Corky and made me laugh so many times. Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara are awesome as the married travel agents. Parker Posey was very good as Libby Mae Brown. When she would begin to say something and then just stop talking, it was great (you got to see it). Eugene Levy is hilarious as always. The one who stands out though is Bob Balaban. He doesn't say much, but you can just see what he wants to say. Bob always looks intimidated and I had a great time watching him. Acting - 99
Direction - Christopher Guest deserves "two thumbs up" for this masterpiece of comedy. He makes everything work out perfectly and should be hailed for all the great work he does. Direction - 97
Overall - 97.3/A+ - A great film that needs to be seen, even if you aren't a Christopher Guest fan. It is one you will truly treasure and one that you can always expect a good laugh from.
Rated R for brief strong language, and some sexual content.
So, I told my wife that we had too movies that we could watch, but since she had seen one of them several times, she picked the other one, which turned out to be "Waiting for Guffman." After the first five minutes she turned to me and said, "This is one of those movies, isn't it?" I assumed she meant one of the Christopher Guest mockumentaries so I said, "Yes," and that satisfied her for a while. Then a while later when I was explaining that one of the familiar faces was Brian-Doyle Murray, who was also Bill Murray's brother, she told me to keep talking. Usually she tells me to shut up during a movie, but she said this one was boring, so I could liven it up. The only thing was that after throwing that tantalizing bone out in front of me she started laughing at something that happened just about every other minute for the rest of the film.
"Waiting for Guffman" tells the story of the pageant celebrating the 150th anniversary of the founding of Blaine, Missouri, which was founded when the leader of a wagon train heading for California declared he could smell salt in the air and that they had arrived at their destination. Since then the town has been famous for making footstools for President McKinley (which is why Blaine is the stool capital of the country) and visited by aliens. All of this is fodder for the pageant created by Corky St. Clair (Christopher Guest), who fled Broadway for the more comfortable environs of Blaine, where he put on a stage version of the movie "Backdraft" (and almost burned down the theater).
Corky is aided and abetted by his cast of actors, who between them have virtually no talent, a fact that nobody seems to notice. His "pros" are a a pair of travel agents (Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara), to which he has added newbies including the town's dentist (Eugene Levy) and a local fast-food worker (Parker Posey). In addition to the whole bit of getting the show ready for opening night there is also the drama of the appearance of Guffman, a Broadway talent agent, who is coming to town to see if "Red, White, and Blaine" is ready for the Great White Way.
My favorite mockumentary from Guest and his co-writer Levy remains "A Mighty Wind," mainly because I love the music. The music in this one is not bad and one thing the two movies have in common is a clear affection for their characters (compare it with the roasting Spinal Tap gets in their film), which is proven when the show goes on before the citizens of Blaine. The satire here is subtle and you have to listen to make sure that what you heard them say is what you thought you heard them say, because that is where most of the humor is in "Waiting for Guffman."
on October 29, 2003
but I can tell you that this is one mockumentary you should not miss. Having been in local productions I immediately picked up on situations that happen - the ongoing clash between the musical director and the director, the director having a meltdown and leaving only to come back at the urging of the loyal cast, things getting out of hand with the budget, etc. (with director having meltdown with the powers that be over not getting any more money). The UFO stuff is a great added attraction ("I was probed"). What makes this movie a tour de force, though, is the fine cast and their ability to ad lib and become these quirky hilarious people - especailly the ALWAYS hilarious Fred Willard. No matter how many times you see him in one of these films, it is NEVER enough and Katherine Ohara perfectly compliments him in the husband and wife duo. The movie gradually pulls you in and just when you think "Well maybe this one isn't so great" the auditions scene comes along and you are hooked - Fred and Katherine's song and dance routine is priceless (Midnight at the Oasis). Guest and Levy are at their best and the always reliable Parker Posey is wonderful. I can't say for sure if this one is my favorite of the mockumentaries - I love them all - but this one is really great, especially if you have participated in local theater or just enjoy going to the productions.
on October 2, 2003
Maybe it's because I saw A MIGHTY WIND first.
I was expecting WAITING FOR GUFFMAN to be just as good. I was expecting Eugene Levy's performance to be just as flawless (it was good, but it didn't hold a candle to AMW); I was expecting Guffman (the title character, of course) to appear in the film; and I was expecting much better closure than we were left with.
I really wished the writers had had the characters take a closer look at their performances in the musical (after realizing that the Paul Benedict character was not Guffman) and said something to the effect of "Y'know what? We just did a heck of a show and there's no reason for us to feel depressed about Guffman not showing up. He was the one who missed out!" That would have been nice. That alone would have caused me to move my rating up to 3 stars.
One thing I was not disappointed with was the acting in general. It was superb -- a far cry from the majority of the cardboard performances that Hollywood usually puts out.