I thought about leaving this Canon of Film review, with just the above paragraph, and I could actually, and probably not give it a second thought, but it's also important to put "This is Spinal Tap" in context. It was Rob Reiner's feature film debut, and remains one of his best films. The mockumentary format wasn't exactly new, that was either invented by Fellini or Woody Allen depending on when you want to count, but the rockumentaries they were making fun, actually in hindsight, don't seem that difference than "...Spinal Tap". Even, newer ones always seem to hearken back to it. Even the songs, as cartoonish as they kinda are, actually are about as good or even better than some of the popular pop/metal songs of the era. The format was so beloved by Christopher Guest, that he made a trio of them himself, starting, "Waiting for Guffman", "Best in Show", the best of his films, and "A Mighty Wind", which also is loosely based on a music group originated by the trio of McKean, Guest and Shearer, the Folksmen. The story, as I said, is about a tour, but they're not the legendary rock band they believe, or want to believe they still are, or ever were, but about three guys who desire most to continue living the rock'n'roll dream. They absorb everything that they think it means to be a rock star, but they aren't so much actual rock stars, as they are, emulating their heroes, even as they can't even get top billing to a puppet show anymore. On the edges of the screen, the mockumentary format reveals in looks and angles what characters are really thinking. When Nigel finds out that David's girlfriend Jeanine (June Chadwick) is joining the tour, his heart sinks. He's got a crush on David. Not a gay crush necessarily, but a crush of admiration, and anything that gets in the way of that, might as well be Yoko Ono to him, (Sorry, Yoko) especially when she ends up firing their manager, and taking over, what's left of a tour. There's also a surprising amount of cameos in great memorable roles. The P.O. record company publicist, Bobbi Flekman, is one of the first major part Fran Drescher is known for. Angelica Huston has that great bit where she's the set designer, that, because of an error in measuring, leads to one of the funniest jokes in the film, as a performance goes from the serious to the inept, in a heartbeat. "This is Spinal Tap", above all things is one of the funniest movies of all-time, and it's influence is still being felt today. I've noticed that a lot of people, who don't get the TV show, "The Office", also didn't fully understand "This is Spinal Tap". In fact, when my grandparents used to run the Video Tyme in Boulder City, NV, they put the movie in the music section. It wasn't until years later, when the movie ranked on AFI's list of the 100 Greatest Comedies, did she discover that it wasn't an actual music documentary. The format is great, because it is one of the best examples of a first-person storytelling perspective, even though Marti Dibergi, seems strangely missing during the latter half of the film. Nowadays, that structure's being used, and overused in horror films, but it really can be told in any genre if you get the right people actors. "This is Spinal Tap" does many rare things, especially for a comedy. It's a look back into a zeitgeist of an era, while actually making fun of it. It was only going for the latter, but it actually is a good representation of the '80s rock culture. It happens to be a good musical, and the music actually led to actual tours and albums for Spinal Tap. It also gives us a look inside the business of rock'n'roll. How it's marketed and created. It's also about three people, who thrive for fame, and work at keeping it. They don't work well at it, but they do work at it. You might only notice the comedy, and great lines like the ones about the armadillos in their trousers, or the drummer who mysteriously died by choking on vomit, that wasn't his, but there's surprising amounts of emotional depth in "This is Spinal Tap", and that's the real reason it's one of the best of all comedies.
Oh, and I actually do contend that I invented that Angelina Jolie joke. It's old now, it's not funny anymore, but it was funny as hell at the time.