This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

“What day did God create Spinal Tap — and couldn’t he have rested on that day, too?”

A documentarian (Rob Reiner) follows the British band Spinal Tap — consisting of childhood friends David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) and Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), bassist Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), keyboardist Viv Savage (David Kaff), and drummer Mick Shrimpton (R.J. Parnell) — as they tour America with their manager Ian (Tony Hendra) and eventually with David’s astrology-following girlfriend Jeanine (June Chadwick).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Ed Begley, Jr. Films
  • Has-Beens
  • Mockumentaries
  • Rock ‘n Roll

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “riotous ‘rockumentary’ about a fictional British heavy-metal band” whose “tour becomes a disaster” features Rob Reiner playing filmmaker Marty DiBergi, who accompanies the group into humiliation, and, spoofing Martin Scorsese in The Last Waltz, asks his idols questions and nods throughout their absurd answers (which were brilliantly improvised by the actors).” Peary points out that “Reiner’s parody is not just a question-and-answer session interspersed with performance clips and interviews” but rather “has a story format that allows the actors to develop distinct personalities,” with “the emphasis… placed on the shredding relationship of” McKean and Guest, who, surprisingly, you “really gain affection for.” While “this is a ridiculous film on many levels”, it’s nonetheless “so convincing” that “some not too swift people in preview audiences wondered why Reiner had chosen to make a documentary on such a mediocre, unknown band.”

Humorous scenes abound, ranging from Nigel explaining why his amp goes all the way up to 11:

… to the group performing “Stonehenge” with an 18-inch replica and two dancing dwarfs:

As the first of several hilarious mockumentaries co-written by Guest — including Waiting for Guffman (1996), Best in Show (2000), and A Mighty Wind (2003) — this original outing remains well worth a look by all film fanatics.

Note: This Is Spinal Tap is notable for the being the only movie rated out of a total of 11 stars on IMDb (rather than 10).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Many inspired moments, songs, and lines of dialogue

Must See?
Yes, as a cult comedy classic. Nominated as one of the Best Movies of the Year in Peary’s Alternate Oscars.


  • Cult Movie

(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)


One thought on “This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

  1. Agreed; a must-see, as “a cult comedy classic” and as a genuine masterpiece – from beginning to end. I’ve seen this flick many times and, to this day, give it a revisit from time to time. The subject may be a faux-band but there is not one false note here, melodically or otherwise. This one *definitely* goes to 11! 😉

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