In conjunction with the DVD release of the flick, M-G-M is reissuing the granddaddy of all recent mockumentaries to theatres in selected cities. Rob Reiner’s portrait of that great British band Spinal Tap, whose equipment goes up to 11 rather than just 10 and whose Stonehenge routine is world-famous, is justifiably a classic, as sharp and funny now as it was upon its first appearance sixteen years ago.
Is there any reason to see it, even in this splendidly refurbished form, on the big screen rather than on video or DVD? Well, it’s a scraggly little piece, to be sure, and there are no big special effects or awesome visuals to savor. But there’s a unique pleasure that comes from viewing it in an auditorium filled with like-minded souls and hearing the waves of laughter the picture still elicits, even from those who have seen it many times.
And seeing “This Is Spinal Tap” writ large, as it were, enables you not only to enjoy the main quartet of Guest, McKean, Shearer and Reiner (the latter doing a great impression of the eager-to-please documentarian/fan), but to catch clearly the cameos from a wide variety of recognizable faces. And this time around, make a special effort to appreciate the nuances of Tony Hendra’s performance as the simultaneously unctuous and pompous band manger Ian Faith. He’s really hilarious.
There have been plenty of mockumentaries since 1984, but with the exception of “Waiting for Guffman,” none has come close to matching this one. Nor has Reiner made its equal, despite his many successes. In an era when every over-the-hill rock band in existence seems to be emerging from mothballs for just one more reunion concert, certainly there’s room for the ultimate survivor, Spinal Tap. So go and raise those lighters once again.