Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

"It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever."

So I finally sat down and watched the legendary mockumentary This Is Spın̈al Tap this morning, and you know what? I thought it was absolutely brilliant.

The film charts the attempted comeback of the eponymous rock band Spın̈al Tap, and their journey from has-beens, to breaking-up.

This film's message is straight – success is the consequence of yourself, and other people, but you try telling the lucky recipients about that second one. As the people who they depend upon gradually abandon the band, no matter how hard they try, they cannot become successful again.

It's one of those movies where, if you get the joke from the word go, then the whole hour and a half constantly delivers on your expectations. Their self-inflated egos, and constant ill-fated attempts to lift their behaviour to the impossibly high-standard of their imaginations, of course puts the rest of their world at the other extreme.

One character whinges on about having to fold a slice of ham to fit into a smaller slice of bread, before eventually acquiescing that he will overcome the caterer's incompetence because "I'm a professional." It perfectly encapsulates how the success he's received, once purged of its humbling qualities, has nothing left with which to restrain his pride.

It's an almost fail-safe comedy equation, and director Rob Reiner seemlessly knits a brilliantly crafted script together with moments of improvised genius.

Such a cocktail is heavily dependent upon getting excellent performers of course, and it's ironic that Reiner himself's portrayal of documentary-maker Marty DiBergi is the only element that, for me, doesn't quite cut it. His opening introduction to the film - delivered in-character to camera – just isn't played or directed for authenticity, and I have to conclude that this is deliberate. After all, you have to know in advance that the following 90 minutes are not going to be real, in order to get so much out of them.

The direction too makes predictable errors (at one point there are three cameras all crammed into the same car!) but if you can get past that, then the dialogue contains more priceless gems than it’s possible to remember.

Marty DiBergi: "'This tasteless cover is a good indication of the lack of musical invention within. The musical growth of this band cannot even be charted. They are treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry.'"
Nigel Tufnel: "That's just nitpicking, isn't it?"

[When asked what happened to their first drummer]
David St. Hubbins: "He died in a bizarre gardening accident..."
Nigel Tufnel: "Authorities said... best leave it... unsolved."

David St. Hubbins: "I believe virtually everything I read, and I think that is what makes me more of a selective human than someone who doesn't believe anything."

It's great to watch a film that has such a high reputation, and find that it actually merits it. That said, I'm sure I'd feel much worse about it if I weren't under such heavy sedation.

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