Waiting For Guffman

1996, Movie, R, 84 mins

Review

WAITING FOR GUFFMAN
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This is Spinal Tap star and co-writer Christopher Guest applies the Tap treatment to community theater in this cruel mockumentary. Outrageously mannered theater-queen Corky St. Clair (Guest) is gathering up the kids and putting on a show, an all-singing, all-dancing celebration of the history of backwater Blaine, MO, one-time Stool Capital of the World (footstool, you smutty-minded thing, you). His stars: dentist Dr. Pearl (co-writer Eugene Levy), married travel agents Ron and Sheila Albertson (Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara) -- "The Lunts of Blaine," declares Corky grandly -- Libby Mae (Parker Posey), who works at the Dairy Queen, and hunky mechanic Johnny Savage (Matt Keeslar). You get the feeling everyone had a great time making this movie: improvising lines, thinking up silly bits of business, horsing around and feeling smugly superior to the sort of unsophisticated provincials who actually celebrate small-town sesquicentennials with musical revues in high school gyms. Clever bits are embedded in long sequences built around one-shot gags like Sheila's silly hairdos, Dr. Pearl's lazy eye, Libby Mae's slack-jawed gum cracking, Ron's larger-than-normal manhood (heard about but not seen, thank heavens) and the fact that they're all untalented and stupid, but the result is still frequently funny — sometimes very funny indeed. Guest refined his mockumentary skills with BEST IN SHOW (2000) before making the extraordinary A MIGHTY WIND (2003), a pitch-perfect satire of the world of folk singing that tempers every biting laugh with obvious affection. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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