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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> March 1999 >> This Is Spinal Tap

This Is Spinal Tap

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
5 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
March 1999
IMDB Name:
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Rob Reiner
comedy, musical
MPAA Rating:


If I rated movies on a scale of one to ten, I would be required to give this an eleven. It's not a fresh joke, but it's the right one. This Is Spinal Tap may be a fake documentary, but it plants more jokes in the audience than anything like it. The characters are surprisingly convincing, and have been maddeningly so to interviewers in real life when they show up in character and won't break! The movie documents the decline of the band, so the ending drags as the group's emotional turmoil cuts into the comedy. Of course, not all documentaries are required to be happy ones.

Improvisation At Its Finest

Spinal Tap didn't have a proper script. They knew in advance what the scene would include, but not what they'd say while it played out. This is essential to the documentary feel of the movie: what's about to happen on screen isn't already known by everyone on the screen. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it actually calls for a lot of attention on the parts of the actors. The supporting cast is populated with folks who have gone on to be famous for comedy, like Fred Willard and Fran Drescher.

DVD Comments

Criterion Collection Version

Outstanding disc! When Criterion sat down to commit one of the greatest cult classics to a digital medium, CAV laserdisc originally, they didn't skimp. When they went to DVD, they dropped the price dramatically but kept all of the content. The deleted scenes, trailers, and demos are all available, only a disc flip away. There are two commentary tracks. The first has the three primaries, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer, talking a little about locations, a little about inspirations, and more of the standard fare. The second features the behind-the-scenes folks like the director, editors, and producer. Director Rob Reiner prefaces his comments with a warning that he doesn't like overly- revealing commentaries that remove the mystique of the movie. Everybody talking manages to never say anything that defuses the movie's charm. The menus for the commentary tracks don't just pick which audio and start the movie. Instead they list the chapter stops by what is being discussed in the commentary instead of the usual chapter titles. Since the layout allows more-than-average chapters per screen, this is a nice touch.

See the IMDB information on This Is Spinal Tap's DVD.

Other Opinions

Copyright 1999-2002 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.