Movie Magazine International

This Is Spinal Tap

USA - 1984

Movie Review By Monica Sullivan

For no other reason than that a good laugh is just as crucial in the 21st century as the 20th, "This is Spinal Tap" is returning to the big screen for the benefit of old fans & new. The group Spinal Tap was meant to be satirical, but they somehow wound up touring packed houses for real in the early nineties. It helped that Michael McKean, Christopher Guest & Harry Shearer were & are friends for real. Unlike the four actors who auditioned to be The Monkees as dreamed up by other people, McKean, Guest & Shearer played characters dreamed up by themselves. David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel & Derek Smalls had been playing together since the sixties with a wide assortment of drummers who died before they got old.

The "surviving" members continued to play to audiences as small as 25 & once even received second billing to puppets at an amusement park. Their greatest threat, though, was David's girlfriend Jeanine Pettibone, played by June Chadwick. When she tried to share the management of the band, both Tony Hendra as their "real" manager Ian Faith & Nigel left in a huff. Girlfriends who break up bands are as much of a rock cliché as death at 27, but in its own sly way, "This Is Spinal Tap" shows that a clueless outsider who behaves like an insider is more of a creative nightmare than any lone woman trying to fight male sexism. In any case, "This Is Spinal Tap" (directed by Rob Reiner as Marty D. Berg) is such a good-natured romp that you may actually understand why long time fans memorize the lyrics to every single one of the group's terrible songs!

© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 9/6/00

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