Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"These Go To 11"

It has come to my attention that there are people in the world who haven't yet seen the 1984 movie This Is Spinal Tap. Here's a little glimpse of it.

In this scene, Spinal Tap guitarist Nigel Tufnel is explaining to documentary producer Marty DiBergi why his amplifiers are superior to other amplifiers.



The movie has great cameos by Paul Schaffer, Fran Drescher, Howard Hesseman, Anjelica Huston, Billy Crystal, Ed Begley, Jr., Dana Carvey and the late Bruno Kirby. It created a genre-- the "mockumentary."

Other great Spinal Tap quotes:

"I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the band was down. I think that the problem *may* have been, that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being *crushed* by a *dwarf*. Alright? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object."

"You put a *greased naked woman* on all fours with a dog collar around her neck, and a leash, and a man's arm extended out up to here, holding onto the leash, and pushing a black glove in her face to sniff it. You don't find that offensive? You don't find that sexist?"

"Come on, don't talk back, mime is money, come on, move it."

"Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported."

"The Boston gig has been cancelled...I wouldn't worry about it though, it's not a big college town"

"It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever."


As a lifelong rock fan, I think that I particularly find the movie funny; many of us rockers spent our youth looking for truth and meaning in rock music, only to find, as adults, that many of the rock stars (with notable exceptions, like the Clash) we looked up to were actually dumb as a box as rocks, and shallow as a puddle. Spinal Tap examines this in a humorous way, and points out that in the end, message or not, rock music is still a whole lot of fun.

18 comments:

Bubs said...

"Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported."

Well...they DO.

Jess Wundrun said...

In the clip of the Spinal Tap reunion at Live Earth, David St. Hubbins introduces the band. When he gets to the drummer he says the drummer's name followed by "pray for him".

Skylers Dad said...

One of the best movies ever! This brings back wonderful memories, thanks JY.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I have a shameful confession to make: I have never watched Spinal Tap.

Oh, I feel so free now that I've said it! Although I guess this means that I will have to return my Rockin Girl Blogger award.

Natalie said...

Love that film! I will never get tired of Nigel folding the tiny bread.

lulu said...

"It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever."

This might be my new blog quote.


I totally heart this movie.

Spooney said...

"Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation."

anandamide said...

what really comes across with repeated watchings (i'm sure i'm not alone in having watched this one again and again and again) is how much of the dialog appears improvised and how many of the great lines are christopher guest's.

Chris said...

It's been way too long since I've seen this. Thanks for reminding me to add it to my Netflix list.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I never realized when I heard my friends joke, "these go to 11" where it came from until I saw this movie long after it was a cult classic. Guess I was a late bloomer on this one but I still laughed very hard at a couple of these scenes.

Splotchy said...

I have Tap on DVD, but just last night I was flipping through channels and stumbled across it, with 30 minutes left.

I had to watch the rest of the damn thing. It was a biological imperative.

This movie is hard-wired to my brain.

Johnny Yen said...

Bubs-
I'm aware of the phenomenon of Spontaneous Human Combustion. My friend Danny Sleaze (a stage name obviously-- he was the singer and guitarist for the group Certain Death) wrote a song about it.

Jess Wundrun-
Have you ever seen the movie "Fear of a Black Hat?" The guy who wrote, directed and starred in it openly said it was a "rap Spinal Tap." In "Fear," it's their managers who keep dying.

Skyler's Dad-
I have to watch this movie at least once a year.

Have you ever seen the Dylan documentary "Don't Look Back?" I saw it for the first time years after first seeing Spinal Tap, and it dawned on me that the scene where they get lost backstage was an homage to a similar scene in "Don't Look Back."

Barbara-
You are already this rockin' and haven't even seen Spinal Tap yet? Treat yourself and see it-- you'll love it.

Natalie-
I love that scene!

"It's a complete disaster!"

Lulu-
I've enjoyed a lot of the other "mockumentaries" that Guest and company have made, but Spinal Tap was the best.

Spooney-
Another classic line!

Anandamide-
In interviews I've read, they've said that's exactly how they do it-- they come in with a skeletal script by Guest and improvise a lot, editing it down to the best bits. They've done this with all of their "mockumentaries," including "Best of Show," and "A Mighty Wind."

Chris-
Every time I watch it, there's either some subtle little joke or sight gag I missed.

When you watch it next time, notice how in one of the interviews, Nigel and David (Guest and McKean) both have cold sores-- presumably gotten from the same groupie.

Kristi-
It's funny how that is.

It's funny how a joke can be delayed for years. I grew up reading (and loving) Mad Magazine. As I grew up and got to see the movies they parodied, I'd remember back to the parody and laugh. I guess my roommates must have thought it was funny, me laughing through The Godfather.

Splotchy-
I'm the same way-- we have Spinal Tap, Animal House and The Blues Brothers on DVD, but if I turn past a channel and they're on, I have to keep watching.

Tenacious S said...

I watched this with Sweetness just a couple of months ago. We have long pointed at Bink and said, "This one goes to eleven." Now she knows what the heck we were talking about. Definitely in my Top Ten.

Spooney said...

Best of Show and A Mighty Wind were both awesome, but "Waiting for Guffman" is even better & features the same cast.

Johnny Yen said...

TenS-
I should probably sit down with Adam and watch it. What's funny is that the musicians he likes-- he loves "classic rock"-- are among those being lampooned.

Spooney-
That one was great as well-- forgot to mention it. I own all of those.

My favorite part of Guffman was the theatrical store at the end with the "My Dinner With Andre" action figure set.

deadspot said...

I love the scene where they arrive at their gig to find that they are billed second, after the puppet show.

Johnny Yen said...

Deadspot-
I was reading an interview with REM years ago, and they were talking about whether they'd paid their dues or not. They remarked on the venue-- that they had played that place!

"You were supposed to be billed before the puppet show!"

I also love when they get booked at the Air Force Base-- remember that Fred Willard was the smarmy officer?

Some years back, when Vernon Reid left Living Color, they made the announcement that they had reformed as a free-form jazz combo (i.e. like Spinal Tap without Nigel). The unintentional irony was alternately funny and painful.

busterp said...

Great movie. Love Harry Shearer. Wish I could get my Simpson's loving son to appreciate him.

Mockumentaries:

Best of show one of my favorites.

Another I really liked was Memron(2004). Definitely worth a watch:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0392439/