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This Is Spinal Tap
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Reviews & Ratings for
This Is Spinal Tap More at IMDbPro »

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101 out of 110 people found the following review useful:

Still the funniest rock'n'roll movie ever, and one of the best DVDs on the market.

Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
9 October 2002

'This Is Spinal Tap' has been part of my life for so many years that it's hard to remember a time when I hadn't seen it. Having recently bought it on DVD and rewatched it for the nth time I was once again struck and just how clever and amusing this movie is. Christopher Guest and friends are not only very talented comedians with an amazing ability to improvise, but they know their music, and this is the real strength of the movie. Even though I have almost memorized every scene and joke it's STILL funny to me no matter how many times I watch it. Not only is the movie itself a classic, but the DVD is one of the best buys around with plenty of extras, deleted scenes, many as good as those chosen, and best of all a hilarious commentary by Tufnel, St Hubbins and Smalls which is even funnier than the movie itself. In fact it's the most entertaining DVD commentary track I've heard to date. This movie is a comedy classic, and easily the sharpest rock'n'roll parody ever made. If you haven't seen it before you're in for a treat! Absolutely essential viewing for all rock'n'roll fans, metal or otherwise!

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98 out of 123 people found the following review useful:

Band On The Run

9/10
Author: Bill Slocum (bill.slocum@gmail.com) from Greenwich, CT United States
13 January 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The gritty, unpretty reality of rock music is on display in director Marty DiBergi's unsparing rockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap," which chronicles the British metal band's tour through the United States in the latter part of 1982.

Cold sores, drugs, late-night debauchery, and the brutal snubbing of a Sinatra-loving chauffeur are just some of the antics on display, in what could be the most penetrating and uncensored examination of the rock n' roll lifestyle since "Gimme Shelter." Whereas that movie features one grainy, out-of-focus killing, this film actually shows the band's drummer spontaneously combusting on stage! And apparently this was the second time that happened (or maybe I'm thinking of the drummer they lost to an unexplained gardening accident, I'm a little unclear.)

DiBergi hasn't made a movie since "Spinal Tap," which is a shame. No chance he'll make a sequel though. In the 2000-issue DVD, band members Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins, and Derek Smalls make clear that they feel betrayed by DiBergi's work, calling it "a hatchet job" and hinting that his jealousy about not being the sixth band member caused him to show only the band's bad side. For example, we see in the movie Spinal Tap backstage at Cleveland's legendary Xanadu Star Theater wandering fruitlessly through a warren of back corridors trying to find their way onto the stage. Nine times out of ten the band found their way on stage without problem, as they point out on the commentary track, but DiBergi has to show the one time they don't.

Murphy's Law seems to predominate elsewhere, too, like when Nigel's back gives out in the middle of a blistering solo, or Derek is trapped in a giant peapod prop for an entire song. Viewers of a particularly cruel disposition may even find some cause for amusement when a misunderstanding in Austin, Texas leads to the band performing their legendary number "Stonehenge" in front of a model of the ancient monument that barely comes up to the drummer's kit. Maybe they could have gotten away with it if they didn't let the dwarfs come onstage and dance alongside it, but the result, as St. Hubbins notes, is almost "a comedy number, and I didn't bloody appreciate being part of the comedy."

The band struggles on, and perceptive viewers may detect a slight note of friction between Tufnel and Jeanine, St. Hubbins's girlfriend, for example when Tufnel throws his guitar down on stage, stares at Jeanine accusingly for a minute, and then quits the band. Misogynists will say Jeanine is the kind of rock wife that 'puts the yoke in Yoko,' but they shallowly ignore her tambourine-playing, or her fearless use of red satin as a pant fabric.

Admittedly, Jeanine is less on point as a manager, as an early gig under her control at an amusement park finds them billed under their opening act. 'If I told them once, I told them a thousand times,' she muses. 'Put the band's name first, puppet show after.'

But the band soldiers on, and by the end, you will be glad you stuck around, too, rough as it is to see the harshness on screen. It's the kind of documentary that demands periods of quiet reflection to take it all in, to register the pain, sweat, and unpleasant odors behind the entertainment we too often take for granted on the radio.

Sadly, the film doesn't feature a complete version of Spinal Tap standards 'Hell Hole' or the big-in-Japan 'Sex Farm.' We do get a full-throated version of the classic 'Big Bottom,' a power ballad which examines the seat of female beauty with a wry Steely Dan-type lyrical subtlety: 'Big Bottom/Big Bottom/Talk about mud flaps/My girl's got 'em.'

Why don't they make songs like that any more? I give this film a 9 out of 10, but with the DVD commentary, you gotta boost that to 11. Rock on, Tap!

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68 out of 81 people found the following review useful:

Deserves its fame

10/10
Author: zetes from Saint Paul, MN
31 July 2000

Spinal Tap has been called one of the funniest movies ever made by many people over the years. I had always been familiar with it. I was very familiar with almost 70% of the scenes: the amplifier that goes to 11, the Stonehenge dance, the inability to find the way onstage in Cleveland. Plus, when it was first released on VHS, I had rented and loved Fear of a Black Hat, a mockumentary about a rap group which more or less rips off every scene of This Is Spinal Tap. After finally sitting down with This Is Spinal Tap, I am still a fan of Fear of a Black Hat (and I recommend it to anyone who hasn't heard of it), but it can not come close to touching the genius of the collective vision of Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Micheal McKean and Harry Shearer. I laughed pretty much constantly, and belly laughs, all through the film. It does kind of slow down nearer the end with the bands falling apart (i.e., the plot gets in the way of the documentary), but there was never a scene in the film that didn't have something hilarious. I have to give this film 10/10. This Is Spinal Tarp, er, um, I mean Tap is one of the funniest comedies ever made.

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66 out of 88 people found the following review useful:

Hello Cleaveland! Still one of the funniest films ever and even better on DVD

10/10
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States
28 May 2001

Spinal Tap seemed funny the first time I saw it, but I never got all the jokes. Now though, I saw it through and through and I loved it even more (especially on DVD where the extras are hilarious). Nearly every gag in the movie is dead pan funny, from the cover of "Smell the Glove" (just the description will make you laugh) to all the others including the three piece guitar solo, the animal costumes ("this is what you'll look like as a crab" is the funniest line of the 80's next to "Frank, they're not here for you, Weird Al is on the plane" in Naked Gun), the backstage food, (of course) the amp that goes to 11 and the 18 inch stonehenge. Satire at one of it's best, and it's excellent. Cameos include Bruno Kirby, Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Paul Schaffer and Anjelica Houston. Other best line: you can not do free flow jazz odyssey in front of a festival crowd! A+

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52 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Laughs at '11'; one of the greatest comedies ever filmed!

Author: george.schmidt (gpschmidt67@gmail.com) from fairview, nj
23 April 2003

THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984) **** Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer (Cameos: Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Fran Drescher, Paul Shaffer, Howard Hesseman, Ed Begley, Jr., Fred Willard, Angelica Huston {note spelling!} ).

Hysterically funny and dead-on "rockumentary" spoof of absurd documentaries and lame so-called rock groups with wicked satirical approach and clever camera shots as well. Directed by Reiner (his debut) with accurate depiction of super-inflated egos, pompous hangers-on and hilarious intimate moments with great dialogue thanks to the improvisations of the trio who reportedly worked from no screenplay. Best moment: Spinal Tap trying to find the stage. And I personally agree with the keyboardist's philosophy of "Have a good time, all the time".

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37 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Smell the Glove!

10/10
Author: (freenachos@hotmail.com) from North Hollywood, CA
5 November 2002

The humor of "This is Spinal Tap" has a special time-release formula. I didn't find myself rolling on the floor laughing the first time I saw this but as the day went on my friends and I couldn't stop recalling the dialogue. This movie is a legend.

"See Spinal Tap" should be written in the dictionary next to satire. Lately satire has come to mean a simple mockery of pop-culture instead of "human vice or folly attacked through irony, derision or wit". Movies like "Scary Movie" claim to be parodies or satire without even trying to be witty. They just imitate something as opposed to commenting on it. True satire takes a bit more work by the writers and will make you laugh much harder.

Spinal Tap gives you the absurdity of the rock and roll world, yet still respects the music. I understood this when I saw a clip of the movie for the first time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was the scene with amps that go to "11". I couldn't stop thinking about that scene until I finally saw the movie. Every aspect of the music world is lampooned; arrogance, absurdity, backstage crybabies, has-beenism, volume, even the Beatles. This movie is quoted like the Simpsons, which isn't always good but certainly proof of legendary movie. It's dry, deadpan humor and it may take a day to sink in but this movie is hilarious.

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38 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

A hilarious little spoof - wit rather than clumsy stuff

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
1 January 2004

In 1982 the world's loudest band is about to undertake it's comeback tour of America to coincide with the release of the new album. The group, Spinal Tap, is accompanied by documentary filmmaker Marti DeBergi on what turns out to be a fateful chapter in the band's colourful history.

Despite what anyone else tells you, this is easily one of the most quotable movies made and is just as funny today as it was when it was made, unless you are so out of touch with the world that it affectionately spoofs. The film is almost a tragedy so well does it chronicle the absurd collapse of the band. However, regardless of the hows and whats, the comedy is in the characters and the sharp dialogue. While most of the specific action is really funny, it is best during the backstage arguments and the candid interviews.

The dialogue is fantastic from start to finish and is made better by a superb cast delivering absurd lines with a straight face! McKean, Guest and Shearer are the strongest of the cast have most of the best lines. The support cast is also crammed with cameos from such people as Bruno Kirby, Billy Crystal, Begley Jnr, Macnee, Paul Shaffer, Anjelica Huston and others. Reiner excels as director, writer and documentarian, the film has his hands all over it.

Overall this is a great film, so much has been said about it that I won't go on any longer. While it is not an out and out spoof like Naked Gun, this film is wittier as the comedy comes from the dialogue and the sheer imagination of the writing!

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39 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Cult classic

9/10
Author: rbverhoef (rbverhoef@hotmail.com) from The Hague, Netherlands
14 October 2004

By many seen as the favorite cult classic (together with 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show') 'This is Spinal Tap' is truly a comedy masterpiece. The rockumentary about fake band Spinal Tap seems so honest and serious that the slightest joke gets a huge laugh. We follow the band together with a documentary filmmaker, played by director Rob Reiner, on a tour that must make sure they will have a comeback. We see some of their shows where things go wrong, we see how they argue about the cover of their album, and we see how a girlfriend almost destroys the band.

The movie handles all these events as serious as possible, presenting itself as a real documentary about a real band. The fact that the band members are not too bright makes it funny. Especially the scene where the lead singer talks about an amplifier that goes to eleven instead of ten and therefore produces louder sounds is hilarious. The scene where the band plays on a Stonehenge stage is a classic, very memorable.

Writer Christopher Guest recently wrote and starred in 'Best in Show' (2000) and 'A Mighty Wind' (2003), two hilarious and terrific fake documentaries, the so-called mockumentaries, but 'This is Spinal Tap' stays the classic example. He and his co-writers, including director Reiner, have created the ultimate cult classic.

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47 out of 63 people found the following review useful:

Rockumentary is a mockumentary

10/10
Author: Hermit C-2 from Marietta, GA, USA
28 May 1999

This is FANTASTIC! Writers Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer in collaboration with director Rob Reiner have created a satire so dead-on its target that it might be scary if it wasn't so hilarious.

Filmmaker Marty DiBergi, taking a break from dog food commercials, is determined to capture the sights, sounds and smells of his favorite rock group, the legendary Spinal Tap, on their latest U.S. tour. They're a 20-year old heavy metal outfit from England centering around lead singer David St. Hubbins (McKean), lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel (Guest) and bass guitarist Derek Smalls (Shearer). The rest of the band is a revolving door of personnel including a series of unlucky drummers who have met with bizarre demises. The new tour is the first the band has made of America in years, and unfortunately the they seem to have lost about as many fans as they've lost brain cells. When asked if the smaller venues that the band is playing on this tour means they are losing popularity, manager Ian Faith (Tony Hendra) quickly dismisses the idea. The band's fans are just becoming more "selective," he says.

Still, the group is received well at their initial shows--that is if the gig hasn't been canceled, if their balky stage props don't malfunction, and if the band can find its way to the stage from their dressing rooms. But the tour is one disaster following another. Fans don't show up for autograph sessions at record stores. Radio stations play their oldies and ask, "where are they now?" To top things off, David's girlfriend Jeanine (June Chadwick), the band's Yoko Ono, arrives. She soon starts contributing her ideas, such as having the band dress in fantasy creature costumes and recording their music "in Dubly."

Even with all this trouble, the band feels things will pick up if they can just get their new album released. But Polymer Records refuses to distribute "Smell the Glove" with its lurid cover art. Eventually it's released with a solid black record sleeve, with nary a word or picture on it. This turns out to be a reverse image of the Beatles' white album in appearance, artistic success and sales. The band sinks so low as to be billed second to a puppet show at a theme park. The pressures are just too much and as the tour limps to a close the long life of Spinal Tap seems at an end. But rock & roll is a funny business...

Throughout we're treated to the band's rock & roll wisdom and philosophy. For instance, Nigel lets Marty in on one of the reasons for their success--loud amplifiers. While the volume settings on other bands' equipment might just go to 10, theirs goes to 11! Asked if there's really a difference, Nigel replies, "Yeah, well it's like... one louder, innit?"

There are tons of cameos by all sorts of people, including some funny portrayals of PR flacks by Fran Drescher and Paul Shaffer. This is a brilliant comedy that, despite all the parody, loves its subject. Treat yourself to it.

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38 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

On the fine line between stupid and clever... kind of like lukewarm water

10/10
Author: edantheman from United Kingdom
7 March 2007

Not too long ago, my classmates and I were allowed to bring in a DVD of our choice as it was nearing the end of the school term. Knowing that these pop culturists wouldn't be too happy to watch one of my 'arty cult films', I didn't give a shite and brought in 'This is Spinal Tap'. They quite happily agreed to put it on after I told them it was funny and had swearing in it. But soon, boredom started to sink in with the class. "Crap", they labelled it. "Boring", they yelled. After less than ten minutes, my teacher was changing the disk to, wait for it… 'The Others'. One of my chums, being a fan of the film, dismissed them as idiots. However, I told him it was all a matter of taste and that they would be much happier settling down to watch their 40-year-old virgins and American pies than this more subtly-coloured tin of paint. So as I walked over to the front of the classroom, tail between my legs, to pick up my DVD my teacher leaned over and said, "Don't worry, I liked it. You have to be cultured to enjoy this sort of thing." And you know what, she's right.

To be quite frank, 'Spinal Tap' is just like marmite. You'll either love everything about it or hate every frame of it. Some people say it's like watching wet paint dry, others say it was so funny it gave them a hernia. I definitely fall into that latter category. After the umpteenth viewing, I still find it painfully hilarious!

But that's not the only reason for seeing it. It's also a totally accurate, observational and witty deconstruction of rock's strutting pretensions. If you're someone who thinks rock bands take themselves far too seriously, you need this movie. If, on the other hand, you feel like rock stars should forever be treated like gods and worshipped on a regular basis, you might just want to avoid this. After all, when Aerosmith's Steven Tyler had finished watching it he said he just felt like he wanted to throw himself off a cliff! It reveals the utter shallowness of rock 'n' roll without even flinching!

If you're also a lover of in-your-face laugh-out-loud got-it-straight-away humour, just stay away. Far, far away. This is intellectual stuff. You have to possess intelligence to enjoy it. I've never met any stupid people who did enjoy this film.

Director Rob Reiner really shows how broad his range is with this (his best in my opinion!), bringing every authentic detail, no matter how seemingly minor, to the screen effortlessly with a wonderfully sharp cast. Its still a challenge to get my head around the fact that this is from the same tubby Santa Claus look-alike who made 'The Princess Bride' and 'Stand By Me'! Reiner has always been a man with extraordinarily wide horizons and always will be, constantly entertaining cinema-goers with so many different stories!

The film's fly-on-the-wall mockumentary style works wonders, getting some beautiful performances from its actors (namely Michael McKean and Christopher Guest) and adding to its 'natural' feel. Many films, mainly British ones, have imitated this style ever since. Even one of the film's actors and co-writers has stuck to the hip of this film for the most part of his career, coming up with new and even more outlandish 'mockumentaries' to entertain and sate his legion of followers.

On each viewing, you'll erupt into laughter at the discovery of a new joke. Then for weeks on end, you'll be quoting it to your friends and everyone you know. It's like a treasure trove without a bottom!

To finish this not-so-critical analysis, I can never find any fault or flaw even after the innumerable viewings I've had. I never get bored of it either. I think the reason I like this so much is, honestly, because it was made for people like me!

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