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 January 25, 2002
You should feel lucky to see this film.... In today's world of college romp sexual comedies, Waiting For Guffman is a comedy that is overlooked. The thing about this movie that differentiates it from the others is that you must possess a thinking brain to get it. The dialogue in this movie is top notch. It is hard to even explain the importance of this movie in today's cinematic arena. It must be said that Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy have not only made a statement with this film, but they set the bar at which all modern comedies must be measured.
The characters in this film are so extreme that you fall in love with all of them everytime you watch this movie. Corky St. Clair is without a doubt one of the funniest characters in movie history. Dr. Allan Pearl, and Ron and Shelia Albertson will have you laughing until the final act. Everyone else in this film are just icing on the cake. If I had one film to show to the world that they have'nt seen yet...this would be it. It is a gift for every movie lover.
American Pie is funny, so is Road Trip and Scary Movie, but this film blows all of those movies out of the water. Those movies are easy to make: get big breasted girls together with a bunch of swearing, coming of age men, and you have a hit movie. Easy formula. But Waiting For Guffman transcends that formula. This film strays from the norm in the fact that it establishes a character base and thrives on all of those character's quirks and nuances. It seems that for every character in this film, I know someone in real life that parrallels that character's personality. That, to me, makes THE perfect formula for a hit movie.
The DVD edition is a must have for all movie collectors. The directors commentary ADDS to the movie, when you know where they are coming from, it makes the movie that much funnier. The deleted scenes portion is like the dessert to a full course dinner. There are some scenes in there that you would swear are funnier than those that made the final cut.
In closing: If you are looking for a comedy that you can watch again and again, buy this movie. If you are looking for characters that you will come to know and love, buy this movie. If you are looking for ORIGINAL film making, buy this movie. I would put this movie up against todays "formula" movies time and time again and call Waiting For Guffman a winner hands down.
on June 6, 2001
"Mockumentary" about an ex-New Yorker named Corky St. Clair who engineers a musical revue in a Missouri small town, which, we're told, is the "Stool Capital of the World". This is the wrong environment for a Broadway-loving gay man, and Christopher Guest gets a heckuva lot of comic mileage from it. Corky St. Clair may be an experienced theater-man, but the local "talent" he has to work with leaves a lot to be desired: the prime hilarity here is watching Guest's character put out this (increasingly) optimistic cheerleading of his sorry troops. And what troops! The extremely talented cast (Fred Willard, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, et al.) have an unconscionably good time ripping apart small-town yokels' pretensions of "artistic" achievement. (My favorite is the guy who does a Carson impression -- of course, he lets you know WHO he's impersonating beforehand.) Yes, it's a touch mean-spirited . . . like (let's face it) all good comedy. *Waiting for Guffman* is, unlike the troupe of players it depicts, a diamond in the rough.
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.
"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 June 13, 2002
This one cracked me up more than Best In Show. Christopher Guest has put to gether a great improvisinational act with a core group with Carhorine O'Hara, Fred Williard, Bob Balaban, Eugene Levy and himself.
They all play such diverse and almost surrealistic characters that they make you wonder if they might be player a distant, distant relative.
Eugene Levy and Chistopher Guest wrote the screenplay concept and then with the talented cast the assembled, most of what you see is improvisational and spontaneous. You may think how do they do that? Well if you given your chatacter description with appropriate costume and character background, put on set with other chartaacters and told what the scene set-up is - you run with it. That's improve.
The DVD shows a few scene that were cut out but my favorite part is the commentary by Eugene and Chris. They are funny. Since Spinal Tap. This one is my favorite of his. From the auditions to the town 150th anniversay celebration. It cracked me up.
on August 22, 2002
Christopher Guest stars as Corky St. Clair, the small-town drama director of Blaine, Missouri. His credential of being a New Yorker and having that creative flair (gay) have made him a local legend. For the 150th anniversary of Blaine, the city council has tapped him to do a show. "Red, White and Blaine" is a musical that takes us through the history of Blaine's accidental finding, settling, and it's alien encounters. The real fun of this story comes from how serious the whole town (including the actors) takes this show, which I can only compare to a kindergarten play. This film is funny because it's so serious but the dialogue between the characters are so trivial that it borders on stupid. I actually watched Best in Show first before watching this film. Most of the actors remain the same. The format of interviews before, during and after the "main event" is also the same. There were lines in this film that were repeated in Best in Show and made me laugh, e.g. "How tall are you?" "Six foot 2." "Really?" Eugene Levy as the guy who tries to be funny perhaps steals the show.
It's a nice, short film (84 minutes) to get your mind off things.
LEAP rating (each out of 5):
L (Language) - 3 (more improvisation from a bare-bones script, but if you listen carefully nothing they say matters)
E (Erotica) - 0 (n/a)
A (Action) - 0 (n/a)
P (Plot) - 1 (the small town of Blaine, Missouri prepares of its 150th anniversary celebration with a musical hoping to make it to Broadway)
on June 10, 2002
And what a fabulous show it is, too. I have done a bit of community theatre myself, and Guffman has only served to help me appreciate it all the more. When i first saw Waiting for Guffman, I laughed harder than i had ever laughed at a movie. The second time i saw it, i laughed so hard i couldn't breathe and i nearly wet myself. Christopher Guest is perfect as Corky St. Claire, and if you have seen him in ...Spinal Tap or Princess Bride or Best in Show, you know how much he immerses himself in a role, i have trouble telling that he's the same actor in any of the parts. And each one is played to perfection, with my favorite being Corky, the big city man, come to bring culture to the backwoods Blainians. Parker Posey is likewise perfect as the daft Libby Mae Brown. I can see how people could see this show as boring, but certainly it is not unimaginative, if you know anyone who is anything like these people. If you have seen the number of locally made commercials that i have seen, you know how people turn in front of a camera, and all of these people do it perfectly...
Not enough can be said, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard, and especially Linda Kash (Mrs. Allan Pearl).
You must purchase the DVD edition of this movie, it has the best supply of deleted scenes that i have seen. You will cry when you hear Corky talking about riding the sperm whale or the Shirley Temple dress.