A Film Review By The Mike
Starring: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, Many others
Directed By:Christopher Guest
While watching A Mighty Wind, I couldn’t help but be taken back to memories of the great and powerful Spinal Tap. Of course, the fact that one of the three bands followed by Christopher Guest’s newest mockumentary, The Folksmen, is made up of the three primary men who are recognized as Spinal Tap’s core makes the comparison a simple one. Maybe this is why I never truly was enveloped by A Mighty Wind.
In A Mighty Wind, our focus is centered on the efforts of the son of a recently dead folk music pioneer who wishes to reunite the three groups his father’s music was realized by for one big show at Town Hall. Of course, each of these groups has been of tour and out of sight for at least 20 years, and reuniting each of them and bringing them together will not be an easy task.
Firstly, we have The Folksmen, a trio whose famous song was Eat at Joe’s, which is by far the most infectious tune the film provides. These three are played by Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Guest himself. Despite the Spinal Tap reunitation, they are by far the least interesting of the three groups, with the only really funny bit they supply coming when they find their opening song has been used as the opening song of another band by mistake. They provide a few laughs, but nostalgia is their key contribution to this film.
The second group was The Main Street Singers, which today are The New Main Street Singers, an amalgamation of those who have loved and followed the band that includes a formerly homeless fan, a former porn queen who “specialized in something a lot of the girls wouldn’t do”, a school teacher (the always goofy Parker Posey, who doesn’t get as much screen-time as she deserves), and six other misfits that complete the “neuftet” (Why they threw in the french version of nine instead of the term nontet that is more accepted befuddles me). They’re not highly regarded by some folk historians and bands, notably The Folksmen, but they only wish to tribute their predecessors, even if they’re playing amusement parks most of the time.
Finally we have the duo of Mitch and Mickey (American Pie’s Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara of the Home Alone films). By far the most popular and beloved of the three groups, they unfortunately went through a nasty mid-70’s breakup that sent Mitch into a psychotic breakdown and Mickey into a marriage to a catheter salesman. They meet back up to prepare for the concert, and the unhinged Levy steals the screen every second he’s on it. The duo is by far the most entertaining to watch, and Levy’s work alone is worth the price of admission. It’s a performance I’ll definitely remember when listing my year-end bests, but will probably go overlooked by most.
There’s a lot to like about A Mighty Wind, which provides so many moments of uncontrollable laughter that you have to leave the theater with a smile on your face. Most of the humor comes from the brilliant script by Guest and Levy, along with some brilliant improvisation along the way by the great cast. Several of the jokes come very quickly, and we’re left saying “Did they just say what I think they said?” to ourselves often. If it’s laughs you want, this film will not let you down.
The mockumentary style of the film leaves it a little difficult to stay with at times, and the pace of the film is stalled several times throughout. But it was very funny, with a rare type of humor that we don’t see in most of today’s comedies. For that alone it’s worth a recommendation. If you can get past its style you won’t be disappointed.