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December 11, 2003

Ranking the Guest Mockumentaries

Posted by Mike on December 11, 2003 9:31 AM

Recently finally got around to seeing "Waiting for Guffman", rounding out my viewings of the mockumentaries with Christopher Guest somewhere in them. IMDB purists say "Spinal Tap" is not to be included in this list because Guest didn't direct, but I disagree enough to include it in the ranking:

  1. "Spinal Tap": The best on a pure "test of time" basis. Like The Bible, there's something in 'tap for every one of life's moments. And the sublime moment I had actually going to a 'tap concert and watching two juveniles rocking out like they just had been for The Birdmen of Alcatraz made it something more than mere film.
  2. "Best in Show": More manic than "Spinal Tap," which I respond to well.
  3. "Waiting for Guffman": Pretty fun. Short in a good way.
  4. "A Mighty Wind": Least favorite by far. Goes in for the kill on jokes in a way that suggests Guest & Co. have figured out the formula and forgotten the timing.


I find each one a bit more tedious and more predictable than the one before.

"Spinal Tap" is a classic and I'd probably put it at #1, too, (but "American Movie" is by far my favorite mockumentary).

Posted by: Cristina at December 12, 2003 5:31 PM

But "American Movie" isn't a mockumentary, is it? I mean... I can even rent "Coven" down at the corner video store.

Posted by: mph at December 12, 2003 6:12 PM

American Movie is definitely not a mocumentary. Mark B. came to Athens for a showing of the film and he is definitely the real deal (not that I needed his presense to assure me of that fact.)

I'd rank the Guest films in chronoligical order. This Is Spinal Tap is pretty much flawless. I can't think of a single gag that fails.

Waiting For Guffman, while having some pacing issues, is, IMO second best. Maybe I like it better because I grew up in a small town just like that one and I know a lot of those people (whereas I don't know a lot of dog breeders.)

Best In Show is really good, but there are a lot of gags that fall flat and seem forced. I thought the "two left feet" gag was really trying to hard and the "Cookie's Ex-BFs" thing got really tired. Rhapsody's trainer bores me and they didn't use Ed Bagley Jr. very well... the "hotel messes" stuff was too over the top. I like the movie a lot, but it's not as good as Guffman, IMO.

A Mighty Wind was just plain bad. I laughed once. I was so pissed about how bad it was that I snuck into Anger Management fully expecting to despise it, and I laughed a LOT.

Posted by: Sam at December 14, 2003 8:14 AM

OMG, you're right! No wonder it was so believable. I just found the American Movie website. It even has Mike Schank's phone number - you can call him in his basement. People always seem to talk about it in the same breath as 'Spinal Tap.' I had no idea.

Posted by: Cristina at December 14, 2003 7:36 PM