This is Spinal Tap is preserved forever by Congress
This is Spinal Tap (1984) is one of my favorite comedies of all time, right there next to Groundhog Day (1993), Fletch (1985), and Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), and the Library of Congress agrees. This movie was deemed culturally significant by the Library of Congress in 2002, putting classic tracks like “Sex Farm” into preservation forever, which is, in itself, hilarious. This is said to be a cult classic, but it’s such good satire. I’ve never seen a better comedy, except maybe things done by Monty Python, but is the Library of Congress right about preserving this movie, which includes such classics as “Big Bottom”?
I’m not into heavy metal or Aerosmith, but I am not lost on satire and the small nuances that make This is Spinal Tap great. It has no slapstick humor. I think the genius of this film is presenting the characters as innocent, because we find amusement in the band being themselves. They play bad music, as if not knowing it. That’s hilarious. They dress ridiculously and try to hide “augmentations” in their pants. That’s funny stuff. And perhaps best of all, they cling to past glories, which makes the statement ‘jumping the shark’ look modest.
In a 2001 review, Roger Ebert gave this movie a perfect score, which I happen to agree with. It’s not even high-brow humor in my opinion, and Ebert still liked it, so there you go. I think satire is something that either works really well or it doesn’t work at all, which Major League (1989) and Hot Fuzz (2007) try to emulate, but This is Spinal Tap works even better because of the documentary element.
We follow the band Spinal Tap throughout the movie and accompany them through the hardships on their silly USA tour. The new album was called Smell the Glove, a title so ridiculous and nonsensical that it is amusing. Smell what glove? Why are we smelling a glove? Why does a rock bad want us to smell anything? I’m sorry, it’s just funny.
The members of the band get frustrated at the small crowds, but I think the behind the scenes stuff works a little better than the music or the on-stage performances. Nigel explaining to David the amazing invention of an amp that goes to 11 is funny, but I think the scene where Nigel complains about sandwich bread he can’t fold is pure gold. It just seems totally improvised for some reason.
So I’m finally done singing the praises of this movie because it does have a few flaws. Like most documentaries, this movie has no point. I dislike Fran Drescher in this movie, but I just dislike Fran Drescher in general, so I guess that’s just personal preference. Also, the triangle conflict between Nigel, David, and Jeanine is silly, but that’s a minor thing. Anyway, this is one movie that has very few flaws.
All in all, this is one of the best comedies I’ve seen. It has remarkably good performances from almost everyone, considering the loose nature to the filming and the scripting. I mean, they must have had a general idea for what they wanted to say exactly, but I think many of the scenes contain improvisation. The music performances are probably entirely scripted, but don’t feel too long or drawn out. It’s not for everyone, because I’ve heard people bash this movie as contrived and stupid, but others just find it too vulgar. It does have sexual humor, but nothing way too over-the-top. I think this is one movie that stands out as one of the best in the genre.