Mockumentary captures the reunion of 1960s folk trio the Folksmen as they prepare for a show at The Town Hall to memorialize a recently deceased concert promoter.Mockumentary captures the reunion of 1960s folk trio the Folksmen as they prepare for a show at The Town Hall to memorialize a recently deceased concert promoter.Mockumentary captures the reunion of 1960s folk trio the Folksmen as they prepare for a show at The Town Hall to memorialize a recently deceased concert promoter.
A Mighty Wind is a film that I loved, and it disappoints me that there were so many critics and filmgoers who were disappointed with it. It seems that quite a few people think that comedies, especially the ones of the mockumentary sort (as this one is), can't go farther then simple mocking. It puzzles me that so many were in agreement that a film about a bittersweet reunion can't be good comedy. I think some moviegoers need quit worrying about smuggling that bag of Milk Duds into the theater and remember to bring an open mind. There may be funnier, more farcical situations (which have been the basis of many, many lesser films), but a bittersweet reunion can inspire comedic moments as well as be the basis for a great film, which A Mighty Wind is.
Christopher Guest, who has championed the film making style that is mockumentary with his role in the classic This Is Spinal Tap, and by directing the hilarious Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, directs as well as co-writes the story with Eugene Levy (the actual lines are all improvised by the actors).
The film plays as a documentary about the organization of a memorial concert featuring folk groups from the 60's who were managed by the late Irving Steinbloom. The groups featured in the concert are the cheesy "neuftet" The New Main Street Singers, the classic folk trio The Folksmen, and the former sweethearts of the folk music world Mitch and Mickey.
The best performance in the film is that of Catherine O'Hara as Mickey Crabbe. She boldly doesn't go for all the laughs, and creates a complete, full, interesting character. Note the interview scenes where she reminisces about her past as one half of the folk "phenomenon" that was Mitch and Mickey. When she talks about their relationship you can see and hear that this is a woman who loved Mitch and Mickey, but not Mitch. Levy is also superb as Mitch Cohen, clearly still in love with Mickey but also clearly insane. He creates an almost over the top comedic performance that makes great use of his infamous eyebrows. He is in a constant state of uncomfortable quirkiness, except when he is singing with Mickey, and he remembers what their relationship used to be, and how it felt to be loved. Note the scene where the two practice one of their hits, "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow," and don't know what to do when its time for them to lovingly kiss each other, which was their claim to fame when they were making TV appearances back in the 60's. Without saying a word, they agree that it would be inappropriate and continue to the end of the song. O'Hara's reaction to that moment is perfect. Then note the scene when they perform the song at the concert and, each for different reasons, they decide to do the kiss. When I first saw that moment and the characters' reaction to it, I got goosebumps. I realized that for the first time in any of Guest's mockumentaries, I actually cared for the characters, and I loved it. It's great that instead of going down that road taken by so many other films, where the former lovers find that they have loved each-other all along and have sex to affirm this to the audience, A Mighty Wind gives something far more interesting.
Although the Mitch & Mickey relationship is the heart of the film, it should not be forgotten that this an ensemble movie. There are terrific comedic performances all around, including those of Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, and Guest as the members of The Folksmen, John Michael Higgins and Jane Lynch as the color worshiping Terry and Laurie Bohner, Jennifer Coolidge as the can't-quite-place-her-accent Amber Cole, Fred Willard as the outrageously sad Mike LaFontaine and Ed Begley Jr. the yiddish talking Swede Lars Olfen.
It may not have gotten as many laughs as This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, or Best in Show, but A Mighty Wind bravely goes where those films didn't. It achieves touching, real emotion. It is one of the best films of 2003.
- Jan 10, 2004