"Spinal Tap" had easy targets; pretentious, aging metal bands are easy fodder for ruthless mockery. Christopher Guest, a major factor behind "Spinal Tap"'s success, is the progenitor behind "Waiting For Guffman," and brings the same dead-on social observation, simply replacing the laconic Brit rockers with small-town dorks attempting to put on a play.
It's Blaine, Missouri's sesquicentenial, and Corky St. Clair (Guest) has been charged to produce a musical for the final celebration. A failed actor fresh from a horrifying decade of New York theatre, the indescribably foppish Corky melds together a cast of talentless-but-energetic goofballs—a wooden Jewish dentist (Eugene Levy), a real estate agent and his wife (Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara, both terrific), and a Dairy Queen cashier (Parker Posey). Halfway into the movie, the hilarity starts to verge on mean-spiritedness; one starts to wonder if parodying a small town troupe of actors is just too easy, their good intentions all toppling into utter self-mockery. Then a most peculiar thing happens - the actual play begins, and it's really very sweet. Still terrible, mind you, but sweet nonetheless, and suddenly the entire movie opens up on about thirty different levels. Very few comedies work like this one does, at once a documentary, a farce, a narrative, and a genuine appreciation for those lives consumed and changed by their "art," no matter how pointless. "Waiting For Guffman" is a ridiculous delight.
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