Back together for the first time, again.
Ed Begley Jr.
Running Time: 91 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12
Country: United States
Here in Blighty weve had the mockumentary genre championed predominantly on the small screen by the likes of Ricky Gervais and Rob Brydon in gems like The Office and Marion and Geoff. Across the pond, they have Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy.
This is the third film to have been co-penned by the pair and then helmed by Guest, following the delightful Waiting for Guffman in 1996 and Best in Show from four years later. Between them, those two projects pieced together an expansive team of comic talent, including Michael McKean, Jennifer Coolidge, and of course Guest and Levy themselves – and most of them are back again for this tongue-in-cheek gawp behind-the-scenes at a folk music reunion gig.
The basic premise is this: when one of the bigwigs of the 1960s folk revolution dies, his nervy son (Bob Balaban) decides to organise a live televised concert in his honour, bringing together the long-forgotten heroes of the period for one last time. So step forward estranged Sonny and Cher-like couple Mitch and Mickey (Levy and Catherine OHara), a slightly-creepy cult-loving ninesome called The New Main Street Singers (led by John Michael Higgins and Jane Lynch), and rusty trio The Folksmen (Guest, McKean and Shearer bringing back instant memories of This is Spinal Tap).
Most of the dialogue is improvised by the cast themselves, with the inevitable result that some bits are funnier than others. Of course, it also has the result of making the whole thing seem remarkably authentic, and at times I had to consciously remind myself that this isnt a real documentary. Theres little denying that those involved are a talented ensemble whose past co-projects have left them working together with the sort of chemistry only familiarity can spawn. Whats even more impressive is that the songs played in the grand finale many of which contain some cracking lines, if you can make them out were all written and performed by these same actors.
Most of it will make you smile to yourself rather than laugh heartily, but its undoubtedly an enjoyable and at-times even slightly touching experience. If youve enjoyed any of the films these guys have made in the past, then chances are youll be in your element with this one too.
It's Got: An interesting observation from Jennifer Coolidge about model trains.
It Needs: To be listened to carefully to make sure you dont miss out on some of the great lyrics contained in those songs.
DVD Extras Audio commentary, deleted scenes, some mocked-up 60s TV appearances, and the spoof broadcast of the reunion concert. DVD Extras Rating: 5/10
Alternatives:Best in Show, Mayor of the Sunset Strip, This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman
Pretty folking good.