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 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.
on September 24, 2003
I've seen "Waiting For Guffman" five times. Christopher Guest and his ensemble give the audience a side-splitting look at smalltown America--a very affectionate, true, look--and the musical numbers are surprisingly good.
Blaine, Missouri "that little town in the heart of a big country with a big heart" is celebrating its 150th birthday. Corky St. Clair, recently of "off-off-off Broadway" is visiting and plans to make a stage production celebrating Blaine, Missouri. He invites Mr. Huffman of New York to come, and to Corky's pleasure, Mr. Huffman agrees.
Corky, brilliantly played by Guest is too much. He likes to buy his wife Bonnie's clothes, but she is nowhere to be seen. He wants to go home and "just bite my pillow" when he gets upset with the town council.
Parker Posey who plays a Dairy Queen waitress and wants to eventually go to the big city where there are "a lot of Italian guys" is also fantastic.
Levy, who plays David Pearl, is amazing. He wonders if he has been wasting his entire life by hiding his stage talent behind a dentist's chair. His wife is hilarious too. She is so glad that they are meeting so many theater people, "because we used to hang around with people who have babies and stuff."
The two travel agents, who have never been out of Blaine, are called the "Lunts of Blaine." When they audition for a role in Corky's new produciton, they use "Midnight at the Oasis" as the theme, both of them dressed in sweat suits.
There are more priceless scenes--too many to mention here.
on August 8, 2002
The first time we rented this movie, I had never heard of it and didn't know what to expect. We ended up renting the movie so many times, we could've bought it. So we did.
Christopher Guest is hilarious as Corky St. Clair, the mastermind director, producer and writer of "Red, White and Blaine." The production is to celebrate the 150th birthday of Blaine, MO.
"Waiting for Guffman" begins with a brief history about the town before getting right into the auditions for the big production. The "talent" that gets cast for the play include Dr. Allan Pearl (Eugene Levy), Ron and Sheila Albertson (Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara) and Dairy Queen worker Libby Mae Brown (Parker Posey).
Corky wants to use his big production as a springboard to Broadway. And when he finds out New York agent Mort Guffman has accepted his invitation to watch the one-night show, he feels he's on the right track.
While the overall movie will keep you in stitches, the heart of the humor will come from the big night onstage. The songs the cast sing, the dances, the dialogue - you'll find yourself quoting the movie after a second watch.
You'll also recognize many faces in this mockumentary. If you've ever seen "Best in Show" and "Spinal Tap," you'll definitely love "Waiting for Guffman." Highly recommended!
on May 11, 2001
With "Best In Show" having recently departed our cinema's, it is worth catching its predecessor, "Waiting for Guffman" which shares the same director, writers and most of the actors. Where "Best" cruelly satirised the world of dog shows, this movie lampoons small-town USA and its dreams of making it big - in this case to Broadway.
Corky St Clair has been comissioned to write a musical for the 150th Anniversary of the town of Blaine, Missouri. What follows is a hilarious riot-trip through the auditions, rehearsals and the final show, which is certainly a "very theatrical piece". Stand out performers include director Christopher Guest as the aforementioned Corky, a man on a mission to present something to rival his last piece, a musical version of "Backdraft", while making sure he still shops for his (curiously absent) wife's clothes. Then there's the town dentist played by Eugene Levy (of American Pie fame) with a lazy eye and a sense of comic timing that only his wife appreciates. Finally Bob Balaban, as the music director, frustrated by the flamboyant Corky and waiting to take over the show.
The comedy of this piece is the way in which characters deadpan their lines and interviews (in classic mockumentary style) and the humour comes in their timing and delivery - witness the hilarious Dr Pearl as he reveals his "lazy eye" or the town historian talking about how Blaine became the "stool capital of the world". In these days of mind-numbingly awful 'comedy', (Deuce Bigelow, Big Momma's House et al), this is a glimmer of hope that intelligent humour is alive and well in the US and will continue to be brought to our screens.
on April 20, 2001
If ever I get the chance to produce a big Broadway Musical, I want Corky Sinclair to direct it! He's...well...brilliant!
This hilarious mock-u-mentary, starring Christopher Guest as the irrespressible Corky Sinclair is a joy to watch from start to finish, and boasts a great supporting, ensemble cast as well. It features Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard and Parker Posey, in roles that you will recognize from real life.
The story centers around a small town and it's attempt to put together a musical production about the history of the town and it's people. It features all the bad talent that can be rounded up in the town and the trials and tribulations of Corky as he struggles to get his brainchild to the broadway stage.
I must warn you...the first time I watched this movie I hated it, the second time I thought was interesting. The third time I watched it I was quickly becoming a fan, and by the time I saw for the fifth time I was totally won over! So give it more than one viewing, it may take a while to appreciate it's true genius.
on March 19, 2001
A wonderfully hilarious and heartfelt mockumentary by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy who recently wrote the hit movie "Best in Show." This ingenious film tells the story of Corky St. Clair(Guest, who is also the director), a New York actor/director living in the small Missouri town, Blaine. He has written a new musical entitled "Red, White, and Blaine" to celebrate the town's 150th anniversary. Next, he must find the perfect cast. Enter Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, Lewis Arquette, and of course Eugene Levy, who create some of the funniest theatrical characters since Mel Brooks' The Producers! Corky has sent a letter to some New York producers, and one has agreed to fly down to Blaine and see the show, Mort Guffman. The cast becomes extremely excited as they gear up for the possibility of a future on Broadway. Through superbly acted situations and comedic timing and poise, the rehearsel's finally culminate to the movies best scene. The opening night of "Red, White, and Blaine." I could not stop laughing at the cameos, the well-crafted characters, and the overall joy that was rampant throughout this great little movie. Anyone who enjoys theatre or just wants to see a great movie nust see this one!
on December 14, 2000
Were I on a desert island equipt with a DVD player and could only bring one movie -- this would be it.
The brainchild of Guest, this improvisational comedy is about a troupe of self-celebrating, goofy, semi-talented small town actors who put on "Red, White, and Blaine," a musical about their small, midwestern town's 150th anniversary.
It is a combination of the humor and freshness of the classic movie "Spinal Tap" and the razor sharp, topical humor of television's "The Simpsons." What could be better?
What I expecially like about _Guffman_ is that it's a vacation from the type of please-everybody humor you usually see in big studio pictures. Instead, much of _Guffman_'s humor lies in the screamingly funny characters portrayed by the actors. (Christopher Guest as the flamboyant, easily excitable director is absolutely priceless.)
Also, listen carefully to the words of the "Stool" song from "Red, White, and Blaine." Hysterical!
Simply put, I don't have enough good things to say about _Guffman_.