Waiting For Guffman

"Movie Magazine International" Review

(Air Date: Week Of 3/5/97)

By Andrea Chase

The hero of "Waiting For Guffman", Corky St. Claire, lives in a reality very different from the rest of us. It's a happier one, where he actually has talent. Yet, in the small town of Blaine, Missouri, this refugee from ten years on off off off off Broadway has found devotees only too happy to follow him down the yellow brick road to the glitz of community theater ala Corky. They're so devoted that, when his too realistic production of "Backdraft" accidentally burns down the theater, there are no hard feelings. In fact, he's offered the vital task of staging a pageant to celebrate the town's sesquicentennial. Corky envisions a musical extravaganza, "Red, White, and Blaine" that will encompass the scope and drama of Blaine's history. And he's not going to let the lack of either stop him. Against all reason, he's convinced himself that this is his shot at the big time.

Corky assembles a cast even more spectacularly untalented than he is. There's the married couple that are Blaine's answer to Lunt and Fontaine (and a rude response it is); a dentist who was not the class clown, but sat next to him in school and studied his technique; a Dairy Queen cutie whose only gift is for splits, banana and other; and a hunk who attracts Corky's interest, but not necessarily for his acting talent. This plucky bunch sing, dance and emote their way to theater immortality, of sorts, with such memorable, show stopping production numbers as "Covered Wagons, Open-Toed Shoes."

Co-writers Eugene Levy, who plays the dentist, Dr. Pearl, and Christopher Guest, who plays Corky and who also directed, have delivered a faux documentary full of stiletto humor that skewers everything in its path. And every actor involved is so dead-on-target sincere that it seems impolite to laugh at them. But don't let manners stop you. From the opening scene of town officials planning perfect placement of port-a-potties to the final scenes of cast members showing how they've fulfilled their own fractured pipe dreams, there isn't a micro-second of "Waiting for Guffman" that isn't excruciatingly funny. You will laugh so hard, that you might need oxygen.

Copyright 1997 Andrea Chase

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