This file was generated 2003-08-26 05:15 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2001-09-03.

Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> November 1998 >> Waiting for Guffman

Waiting for Guffman

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
5 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
November 1998
IMDB Name:
Waiting for Guffman (1996)
Christopher Guest
comedy, musical
MPAA Rating:
R for brief strong language.

Another Mockumentary

Spinal Tap is a damn funny movie. Talented comedians and not-bad musicians put together a decent band and pretended to tour as them in front of a camera. It looks like a documentary, and nothing tells you that you're watching actors instead of eccentric rock stars. The natural feeling really sealed it.

One of the talented actors there, Christopher Guest, set out to make another mockumentary. His most memorable role in the middle was as the polydactyl Count Rugen in The Princess Bride. The scope is a little smaller, but the result is just as good. Guest co-wrote and directed this gem, and even takes one of the feature roles.

Fertile Ground

Waiting for Guffman watches a small town in Missouri prepare for the arrival of a Broadway critic to watch their sesquicentennial tribute play. The preparation of a musical is a tense time for everyone, and watching the politics play out among those involved is hilarious. The participants are giving massive amounts of time and energy to get ready for something extremely public. This is great fodder for a comedy, and it's all mined here. The interplay between the authority figures, the egos of the individuals, and the inevitable budgetary concerns set up crises for our intrepid cast.

Impossibly Convincing

Watching this movie, I was consistently struck by the same thought: it doesn't even look like acting. The cast makes this look more real than some documentaries! They're all playing wide-open characters, but they fill their roles perfectly. Bob Balaban brings his meek yet intense persona to the role of the musical coordinator of the show. Guest takes on an entirely new role as the director, who has some interesting hobbies when he's not working on shows. Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara convincingly play husband-wife travel agents. The joke in their occupation I'll not spoil, on the off chance you haven't heard it already. Even the minor parts, like the significant others and the town board, are great. I laughed at the incredibly natural look to the performances.

The Play

So how is "Red, White, and Blaine"? It's perfect. It reflects the lack of writing maturity that would be expected of the characters. The first-night problems are taken straight from real experience on shows like this, and this is a must see for anyone ever involved in amateur theater because of it. You should get some good laughs out of it, so go for it!

Other Opinions

Copyright 1998-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.