Christopher Guest is a hilarious guy who seems to me like one of the smartest comedians out there (and comedians are the smartest people in the word). He created Nigel for Spinal Tap, was great in The Princess Bride, and put together some of the best improvised mockumentaries out there, especially Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind.
Christopher Guest (1989) -- Christopher Guest's first movie is one of those "make fun of Hollywood" movies that usually aren't very good. The Player is about the only one that truly succeeds. This one has lots of good people who do a good job. Kevin Bacon holds the movie together well. The best, though, is Michael McKean who does a really believable, non-comedic character. The movie is pretty flat and dull and I only laughed once (at a little gag where someone is watching It's a Wonderful Life on TV, bumps the set to flip it from black and white to color, and then says, "That's better").
Waiting for Guffman (1996) -- A "mockumentary," if you will... and one of the better ones. Christopher Guest (who can hide himself in any character) is perfect, Parker Posey is funnier than I thought she could be (her opening talk about the Dairy Queen got me), and everyone else from SCTV is hilarious too. Community theater in real life is the perfect example of people going through a lot of serious trouble for something that should be a simple pleasure (even better than high school theater), and they get all the more-important-than-you-think-ness down, like Fred Willard wanting to "strike" the set. Christopher Guest and his company would make more mockumentaries in the future, each increasing with tragedy, but this is the funniest.
Best in Show (2000) -- I shouldn't compare it to Waiting for Guffman, but since it looks exactly the same, has almost the same cast and crew, and is another semi-improvised fake documentary, I can't help it. So, I don't think it's as good. The reason is because it's too serious. Where in Waiting for Guffman, everyone was just kind of pathetic in a loveable laughable way, in this movie they have serious problems that sometimes just aren't funny. When Fred Willard comes in at the end of the movie, it's a breath of fresh air because suddenly the movie is back to the goofy, hilarious humor of the previous movie. Maybe the movie wanted to be more serious, but I personally didn't want it to be. Also, of course, I didn't think it was completely serious (before you wonder if I'm completely serious) and there was plenty in it that made it a very very funny movie, just not in my perhaps-unfair comparison to Guffman.
A Mighty Wind (2003) -- An improvement over Best in Show, taking it back to more purely funny jokes, though striking a nice balance with the sweet characters of Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara. It's great to see Spinal Tap together again, this time as a folk group. The songs themselves are great, too, and the smart jokes just keep on coming.
For Your Consideration (2006) -- Here's the problem with this movie. It should have just been a true drama, not a comedy with tragic touches. Catherine O'Hara's character has a real breakdown as a result of what happens to her in the movie, and it's probably the best example of how Hollywood fucks with you as a human being I've seen in a movie (the other satirical moments are the usual Hollywood satire stuff you've seen a million times--including Guest's earlier movie, The Big Picture). The movie itself ends on this note (not a funny one) and it certainly takes the viewer aback. But the rest of the movie has been so desperately trying to be so funny -- and failing -- that this and other tragic scenes just seem lost or out of place. One day someone should remake this movie. It could be more profound than something like Sunset Boulevard, and through this absurdity could actually be funny.
Copyright (c) Aug 2001 - May 2007 by Rusty Likes Movies