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This Is Spinal Tap(1984)
A spoof documentary about a once-famous, now almost forgotten British heavy metal band returning to the United States after 17 years for a concert tour.
For more about This Is Spinal Tap and the This Is Spinal Tap Blu-ray release, see This Is Spinal Tap Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 24, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Tony Hendra, R.J. Parnell
Director: Rob Reiner
» See full cast & crew
This Is Spinal Tap Blu-ray Review
Turn it up to 11 and enjoy!
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 24, 2009
The law of averages says you will survive.
For a film with a subject material that's all 80s rock, one need not be either from the 80s or a fan of that decade's oily hair bands to find the humor in and appreciate This is Spinal Tap, Director Rob Reiner's (The Princess Bride) cult classic that follows the exploits of a hard rock band on the verge of extinction. Shot documentary style and capturing the ups and downs (and mostly downs) of a fictitious British group on an American tour to promote a new album, the film stars Reiner in a prominent role as the "Rockumentary" Director often depicted in the film alongside a quintet of make-believe band members with rich pasts (and a deadly drummer's throne) that can't come to terms with their rapid decline in popularity. Often cited as a film that hits a bit too close to home when viewed by real-life bands and a genuine classic in its own right with overdoses of amperage and humor, This is Spinal Tap was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry in 2002.
So when you're playing you feel like a preserved moose on stage.
Marty DiBergi (Reiner), the creative talent behind several hit commercials, has for years been drawn to the music of Spinal Tap, a British hair band with 15 albums to their credit and the distinction of being one of England's loudest groups. In 1982, when DiBergi learns that Spinal Tap -- which consists of lead guitarists David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) and Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), bassist Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), drummer Mick Shrimpton (R.J. Parnell), and keyboardist Viv Savage (David Kaff) -- will be touring America to promote their new album Smell the Glove, he sets out on an endeavor to capture on film the sights and sounds of Spinal Tap, documentary-style. Featuring concert footage; interviews with the group and several dimwitted fans that have probably listened to Spinal Tap for far too long and at far too high a volume; and behind-the-scenes footage that sees the band dealing with a rejected album cover, dwindling revenues, a shrinking fan base, technical problems during shows, under-sized props, and plenty of other mishaps; This is Spinal Tap delivers plenty of raw, uncensored, and unintentionally hysterical exploits of 80s Rock 'N' Roll gone terribly awry.
How much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.
This is Spinal Tap's success stems from its uncanny ability to create a documentary set in a completely fictitious world that comes off as completely real. This is movie magic at its most wondrous, the entire charade both convincing and incredibly funny from the first frame to the last. The world of This is Spinal Tap captures almost too perfectly the look and feel of a band on its last legs, but does so while simultaneously squeezing in plenty of raw and off-the-cuff intentionally unintentional humor that serves up big laughs from small mistakes. Whether confusing "inches" for "feet" or bumbling through basic vocabulary, the band never fails to paint themselves into a corner and then wonder why they've been reduced to playing at an Air Force base to an unreceptive crowd or finding they've earned second billing to a local puppet show on a crumbling marquee. Still, it is the film's documentary style that allows it to unequivocally succeed. Nothing about This is Spinal Tap feels even remotely scripted or rehearsed; none of the characters seem fake, the music tracks are convincing (and played by the actors), and the camerawork is effectively raw and jittery. The film never feels completely professional insofar as the level of spit-and-polish, but that's the point. This is Spinal Tap is a quintessential Comedy and one of the rare films that shatters the barrier between real life and fiction with alarming precision and delectable humor.
If I've told them once I've told them 100 times. Put 'Spinal Tap' first and 'Puppet Show' last.
As alluded to above, the film's humor is so finely integrated into the movie and flows so naturally from the characters and the situations that they find themselves in that it never once comes off as forced, phony, pandering, or unrealistic. At first, the humor dominates the behind-the-scenes segments and, as the film moves along, several side-splitting problems plague the on-stage concerts, too. This is Spinal Tap finds its humor from countless sources; whether the curse of the drummer's throne (every drummer has suffered some terrible fate, one spontaneously combusting on-stage and leaving only a residual green puddle on the throne and another dying from the ingestion of someone else's vomit) or the nit-picky backstage rants on the size and quality of the food, there's always something that's out of left field and completely dry as to defy all logic, which seems to be the entire point of the film. The performances are stupendous all around, and completely seamless. Few Comedies seem as natural-in-flow as This is Spinal Tap. Ricky Gervais' "The Office" delivers a similar style of humor (and is also presented documentary-style). Gervais' performance in that show seems reminiscent of Christopher Guest's effort in This is Spinal Tap, both actors delivering a completely deadpan style of humor with an impeccable cadence and sense of timing. Should This is Spinal Tap ever be remade (Heaven forbid), Guest's role would be Gervais' to lose.
This Is Spinal Tap Blu-ray, Video Quality
This is Spinal Tap arrives on Blu-ray with an accurate-to-the-source 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer. Shot on 16mm film, viewers shouldn't expect This is Spinal Tap to look like a brand new movie fresh out of the local multiplex, and this Blu-ray delivers a suitable image that conveys the intended look about as well as can be expected. There's a glowing aura to parts of the picture, some of it looking artificially bright with several objects accompanied by a noticeable halo effect, for instance Bobbi Flekman's sweater as seen in chapter eight. Fine detail suffices considering the source; nothing manages to stand out but clothing, instruments, and human faces look acceptably good considering the source. Colors, too, are adequate. None particularly stand out from the pack, save for a few scattered greens in nature, but for the most part, hues neither jump off the screen nor appear overly faded. The transfer does include some artifacts throughout, though nothing too terribly heavy that would otherwise interfere with the picture. Grain is noticeable but not all that heavy, and noise buzzes about some of the brightest backdrops. Flesh tones are fine, with only some scattered faces sometimes appearing too red, and blacks are suitably good for the source. It's obvious that the This is Spinal Tap is meant to look a bit unpolished as another factor in creating a believable documentary feel. Remembering that the movie can only look so good, and intentionally so, is key to recognizing the quality of MGM's transfer that makes for the best home video presentation yet of This is Spinal Tap.
This Is Spinal Tap Blu-ray, Audio Quality
This is Spinal Tap blares on Blu-ray with a loud and powerful DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The music as heard during the concert sequences is strong and precise; every speaker oozes with guitar riffs and the pounding of the keyboard. The subwoofer, too, enjoys the work of the bass guitar and drums that tend to rattle the chest cavity and scramble the brain. It's not just delivered with a hefty volume at reference level, but also with a fantastic clarity that, altogether, manages to fool the listener into believing the living room has magically transformed into the front row of a Spinal Tap concert. Even the more reserved behind-the-scenes sequences work wonderfully thanks to this lossless soundtrack. An interview sequence featuring the band and DiBergi delivers clear dialogue and plenty of atmospheric sound effects, some of which compete with the spoken word as the most noticeable trait of the scene. It's not a production flaw but rather another feather in the cap of the realistic, unrehearsed feel of the movie where fictitious production values and pinpoint sound capture and placement play second fiddle to capturing the subject material. Generally, though, the track excels during the concerts and does all that is asked of it everywhere else, and by extension this Blu-ray lossless offering makes for a fine all-around listen.
This Is Spinal Tap Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This is Spinal Tap rocks onto Blu-ray with a zany assortment of special features spread across two discs. First up is an in-character commentary track with the members of Spinal Tap. The band reminisces about the experience of working with DiBergi and serve up plenty of new humor that's almost like a sequel to the movie. Anyone that even remotely enjoys This is Spinal Tap owes it to themselves to listen to this one from beginning to end. Catching Up With Marty DiBergi (480p, 5:01) features Director Rob Reiner in-character recalling his career (including his work on Kramer vs. Kramer vs. Godzilla), attraction to Spinal Tap, and his work on the film. Rare Outtakes is a collection of 14 extensive deleted scenes (480p, 1:07:51). Vintage 'Tap' Materials contains two features. Flower People Press Conference (480p, 1:49) features the pre-Tap band answering random questions from journalists, while Spinal Tap Appearance on 'The Joe Franklin Show' (480p, 2:01) is another faux piece featuring the band's brief appearance on a talk show. Also included are four vintage Spinal Tap music videos presented in 480p standard definition: "Gimmie Some Money" (2:19), "(Listen to the) Flower People" (3:01), "Hell Hole" (3:13), and "Big Bottom" (3:48). Promotional Materials contains several short but fun features. Heavy Metal Memories (480p, 1:37) is a brief promo piece for the band's greatest hits collection. Cheese Rolling Commercial (480p, 1:43) is a humorous "trailer" for This is Spinal Tap. Also included are three 480p TV spots for the movie: Offensive (0:32), Reviews (0:32), and Amplifier (0:32). Rounding out the supplements on disc one are a trio of commercials entitled Rock and Rolls (480p, 0:16 each). Disc two of this set contains a DVD with two additional supplements: 'Stonehenge' Performance at the 2007 Live Earth Concert (6:55) and National Geographic Stonehenge Interview With Nigel Tufnel (8:15).
This Is Spinal Tap Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This is Spinal Tap may be the best fictional nonfiction film of all time. Terribly funny, a blast to watch, and despite its 1980s setting a seemingly timeless picture, it transcends its subject material and plays out as completely accessible to all audiences, no matter their era or preference in music. An open mind and an eager funny bone are all that's required to fall in love with This is Spinal Tap, and it's one of the crowning jewels in Director Rob Reiner's impressive resumé. MGM's Blu-ray release delivers the goods in all areas. Featuring a faithful-to-the-source 1080p transfer, an awesome lossless soundtrack, and plenty of bonus features, This is Spinal Tap deserves a spot in every Blu-ray collection. Highly recommended.
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This Is Spinal Tap Blu-ray, News and Updates
• MGM Re-Announces Spinal Tap Blu-ray - June 16, 2009
MGM Home Entertainment in conjunction with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have announced that they will bring 'This is Spinal Tap' to Blu-ray on July 28th. Originally scheduled for a January 20th release, famous mockumentary will be presented in 1.85:1 1080p ...
• Specs for This Is Spinal Tap Revealed - October 6, 2008
MGM Home Entertainment in conjunction with Fox Home Entertainment have announced the specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'This is Spinal Tap', which is due to hit store shelves on January 20th. Video will be presented in 1.78:1 1080p ...
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