out of Five
Running time: 92
Not quite on the level of either Best In Show or Guffman but still an enjoyable 90 minutes with several good laughs and some surprisingly catchy songs.
A Mighty Wind is the latest comedy documentary (or ‘folkumentary’, if you will) from Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap) and the creative team behind Best In Show and Waiting For Guffman.
Featuring the same regular cast, the film is largely improvised between the actors beforehand, though Guest freely admits to shooting up to 70 hours of material that simply won’t make the final cut.
Impressively Catchy Musical Numbers
At a buttock-friendly 92 minutes, A Mighty Wind certainly has the feel of a film that’s been streamlined, as several jokes from the trailer don’t make it into the finished movie. The result is an enjoyable comedy with some impressively catchy musical numbers written by the cast themselves, though you can’t help wishing that Guest would attempt something different next time round, since each new comedy documentary is starting to feel like a failed attempt to recapture the glories of This Is Spinal Tap.
The film starts with the death of (fictional) folk music colossus Irving Steinbloom, which inspires his fastidious son Jonathan (Bob Balaban) to reunite Steinbloom’s three most famous acts for a memorial concert: the Folksmen (Guest and fellow ‘Tap’ members Michael McKean and Harry Shearer), the New Main Street Singers (including Parker Posey), a ‘new’ generation of folk singers, managed by a hilariously deluded Fred Willard (catchphrase: “Hey! Wha’ happened?”) and Mitch and Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara), a folk duo whose 60s love songs were inspirational, but whose careers have encompassed a divorce, a nervous breakdown and some extremely disturbing solo albums (one of the film’s best sight gags).
Blowing Me Blowing You…
A Mighty Wind (“blowing me, blowing you”) is an unexpectedly sweet film, largely thanks to the focus on the ‘will they, won’t they’ recreation of the famous kiss from Mitch and Mickey’s biggest hit ‘A Kiss at the end of the Rainbow’. The songs themselves (especially ‘Potatoes in the Paddy Wagon) are surprisingly catchy – you’ll be hard pressed not to find yourself humming A Mighty Wind as you leave the cinema.
The performances are all good, with special mention going to Eugene Levy’s bizarre turn as Mitch and comprehensive scene-stealer Fred Willard, whose every onscreen moment is a delight. O’Hara is also good, though it’s a shame Parker Posey doesn’t have more to do.
In short, fans of Guest’s other films will enjoy this, though it’s not quite on the level of his previous work, leading to a sort of feeling of the law of diminishing returns. Still, there are several good laughs to be had and ‘Tap’ fans should get a kick out of seeing McKean, Shearer and Guest making music together again. Worth watching.