A Mighty Wind

A Mighty Wind


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Satire needs to draw blood.

Christopher Guest's latest mockumentary draws a line in the sand instead. On one side, nice people smile their saccharine smiles and appear unaware how bland and boring they have become. On the other, survivors of This Is Spinal Tap are stopped at the door and refused entry to the Irving Steinbloom Memorial Concert at Town Hall, New York.

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What can you say about folksingers, who made swingalong goodtime records on the safe side of the Sixties, when imitation hobos played banjos on stage and older men stuck a finger in their ear and burbled loaded lyrics about ancient mining disasters?

The premise is to bring back three famous folkie bands from the era of The Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul & Mary and put on a concert in honour of the late great impresario, Irving Steinbloom. His son Jonathan (Bob Balaban), a nervous, fussy miniature person, takes charge of the proceedings and the film is shot like a documentary, with interviews, in the style of Best In Show and Spinal Tap.

Unlike these previous comic gems, Guest lays off the slapstick and ever so gently pokes fun. Co-writer Eugene Levy, already renowned as Jim's dad in American Pies 1 - 3, plays part of the duo, Mitch & Mickey. After they split, Mitch had a nervous breakdown and Mickey (Catherine O'Hara) married an English catheter salesman. There is a bunch of gags here, screaming to get out.

The Folksmen are made up of veterans from Spinal Tap, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Guest himself in a bald wig. The joke about them is that they are so good-natured, they don't notice that the record company humiliated them and their careers nose-dived into casino gigs and no-hope one night stands.

The New Main Street Singers are The Main Street Singers with a younger cast of clean-living Christians, such as the born again drug addict (Parker Posey) and a positive-thinking ex-porn star (Jane Lynch). Their songs have a hoedown twang to them and their smiles radiate like nuclear fission.

The subtlety of Guest's humour feels too soft. What's funny about these people is what makes their music impossible to listen to. Their wholesome image hides heartache beneath - some of the time.

What is missing is good old-fashioned excess and an exploding drummer or two.

Reviewed on: 15 Jan 2004
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A Mighty Wind packshot
Mockumentary on the wholesome image of folk musicians, according to the Best In Show crew.
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Director: Christopher Guest

Writer: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy

Starring: Bob Balaban, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch, Parker Posey

Year: 2003

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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