This Is Spinal Tap

"Movie Magazine International" Review

(Air Date: Week Of 03/05/97)

By Mary Weems

"That big-bottomed woman makes me fell so fine -- How could I ever leave -- that bee-hind." And fans of Spinal Tap will recognize the unforgettable lyrics of one of England's. . uh. .. loudest heavy metal bands.

Well, the appeal of "This Is Spinal Tap," director Ron Reiner's 1984 Mocku - Rockumentary, only gets stronger, and, no wonder, what a perfectly tuned, deadpan, right-on, take-off on the rock scene, with Christopher Guest as pouty rocker Nigel Tufnel; Harry Shearer as moustachioed rocker Derek Smalls; and Michael Mckean as androgynous rocker David St. Hubbins. Rob Reiner himself plays the journalist who follows them on their American tour to figure out why their popularity is waning -- although their agent claims the dwindling numbers at their concerts just means they're appealing to a more selective audience.

We see archived tapes of Spinal Tap's early, cleancut years, with their original drummer who died in a bizarre gardening accident. And there they are in their Monkees period singing the hit song, "Listen to the Flower Children." But the best are their heavy metal gigs, the -- thundering strains of "Hell Hole," "Stonehenge", and "Sex Farm."

See cameos from Billy Crystal, David Letterman, Fran Drescher, and Angelica Huston as the artist who makes an 18 inch model of Stonehenge because the band member who gave her the specs on a napkin didn't know inches from feet. Then, before you can say Linda McCartney, with David St. Hubbins' ambitious girlfriend ascends to power, leading to the tragic schism between David and Nigel, who we've seen together in boyhood photos. The group hits rock bottom at the Stockton, CA, amusement park, where their billing is Puppet Show-- and Spinal Tap.

But the band regains its place in the heavy metal pantheon when Japanese rockers start grooving on the rock video "Sex Farm," and, before you can say decibel overdose, Spinal Tap's deafening the exuberant audiences of Japan. And, don't think for an instant that drummers are one-dimensional. Like Spinal Tap's drummer says: The meaning of life is Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll. But if I didn't have Rock 'n' Roll, Sex and Drugs would be enough.

"This Is Spinal Tap" put the mockumentary on the map. If you love rock, you gotta love it, if you hate rock, you gotta love it. It's the cult movie that speaks to every one -- and loudly.

Copyright 1997 Mary Weems

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