My Favorite Movies – This is Spinal Tap
“It’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black.” – Christopher Guest as Nigel Tufnel
My Favorite Movies:
This is Spinal Tap (1984)
For a few months, I couldn’t tell if Spinal Tap was real or not.
I had never seen the movie. I had never seen any of their shows. But I had seen the three men of Spinal Tap interviewed, in character, during an MTV presentation at some metal festival. And I had seen them interact with other popular metal acts of the time – Metallica, Anthrax – as if they were truly rock stars, playing their parts in the ultimate method acting experience.
They were hilarious. I had to learn more.
This is Spinal Tap isn’t a simple comedy. It’s a mockumentary – the first to gain a huge audience and the one that coined the phrase. It’s a tongue in cheek look at everything that’s ridiculous about life, done in a way that no one within the three walls of film continuity realizes.
To this day, the genre never fails to blow me away. The quickness, the wit – the utter immersion into another culture and strict dedication to learning the right things to say. This isn’t acting. This is espionage, an attempt to pass yourself off as true in as humorous a way as possible. This is spy games with a laugh track.
And if there’s anything worth mocking, it’s hard rock cliché.
The right way to watch This is Spinal Tap is with an understanding of the classic rock tour video. With the sound turned up. With the lights down low. With the same seriousness you’d give to an old Tenacious D HBO special.
Feel the rock. (And smell the glove.)
Top Five Mockumentary/Fake Documentary Movies
1. This is Spinal Tap (1984) – See above.
2. Best in Show (2000) – The Christopher Guest crew, all back together to look at pretty dogs. Aside from This is Spinal Tap, this is probably the best mockumentary ever made.
3. CB4 (1993) – The movie that introduced me to non-SNL Chris Rock. I still sing “Straight Outta Lo-Cash” sometimes. “Turn around and eat your Big Ass Biscuit.”
4. Series 7: The Contenders (2001) – Six people. One target. Last a year, and win a your freedom. Otherwise, consider yourself dead. A mock reality show that begs the question, “How far will we go to be entertained?”
5. The Blair Witch Project (1999) – Incredibly dated and followed by a horrible sequel that sapped all of the originality out of the franchise, The Blair Witch Project was a “fun while it lasted” look at tricking people all over the world. Then, it was frightfully original. Now, it’s a punch line.
(See also: How to Irritate People (1968) – a “guide” on irritating people from the masterminds behind Monty Python; A Mighty Wind (2003) – The Christopher Guest crew’s look at folk music reunions.)
Honorable Mentions: Arrested Development and The Office, my two favorite television shows of all time just happen to be mockumentaries of their own.