R Dir: Rob Reiner | MGM | 83 min.
Review By: Fusion3600 | January 28th, 2012
Plot: What’s it about?
“We’re Spinal Tap from the U.K., you must be the U.S.A.!” With these words, the world’s loudest rock band kicks into gear and begins their latest touring effort, Tap Into America. Though the reaction hasn’t been as overwhelming as they’d like, Spinal Tap has hopes that their tour will pick up soon, so long as their newest drummer doesn’t off like the last few have. Along with their manager Ian, the band travels across the country to woo fans and rock the house, and two new developments have come up. First is their new album, Smell The Glove which comes out very soon and then there’s Marty DiBergi, hard-core fan and documentary filmmaker who is taping all the action of this latest tour. After they’ve taken the stage and left the fans with more than their money’s worth, the band sits down with DiBergi to discuss all manner of topics, from the band’s history to special amps they use which have an edge on the competition. But with dates being canceled due to lack of interest and internal troubles as well, can Spinal Tap tough it out and make this last tour their best one ever? Or have the days of Spinal Tap been broken…like the wind?
This hilarious film sports an awesome cast, lead by Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, and Christopher Guest. These three seem so natural in their roles, I can’t even imagine them as characters. I’ve seen them in other projects and such, but I don’t think of them as “the guys from Spinal Tap,” since Spinal Tap is Spinal Tap, at least it is to me. The bulk of the film was improvised and perhaps that’s why it all seems to fluid and natural. Even though the lines were not rehearsed and such, they never seem forced and unfunny. Even the worst of jokes works on some levels, though the last third or so of the film does seem to slow down somewhat. I think McKean is hilarious and Guest shines also, but Shearer really steals the show for me as the quiet Derek Smalls. Smalls has the smallest of the three roles in terms of talking time, but he never fails to make me laugh. Serving as director and actor for this film is Rob Reiner, who made his feature film debut with This Is Spinal Tap. Reiner is a riot as the hack DiBergi and also does a fine turn behind the camera, giving this film a true documentary feel. The cast is also littered with smaller roles played by famous names as Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Fran Drescher, Fred Willard, Angelica Huston, Bruno Kirby, and Tony Hendra as Ian. In short, This is Spinal Tap is a great movie and is highly recommended.
Video: How does it look?
This is Spinal Tap is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I wasn’t sure how good this would look, but MGM has delivered a terrific visual presentation. This won’t dethrone your current demo disc, but given the age of the movie and what not, this is impressive. I found overall detail to be strong for the material and a welcome step up over the DVD. The image still has grain, debris, and even some minor artifacts, but these will be there regardless. A razor sharp, squeaky clean transfer wouldn’t look right for this movie, as the defects help re-enforce the documentary approach. So this won’t blow your mind, but for the material, this looks quite good.
Audio: How does it sound?
As Spinal Tap is one of the loudest rock bands ever, this DTS HD 5.1 makes sure every note is as loud as possible. I never expected the soundtrack to be this impressive, but this sounds awesome. The most boisterous scenes are the concert performances, which are booming and make you feel like you’re front row at the show. This audio presence really hammers home how hard these guys rock, which adds so much to the experience. But not just the music sounds good, as even normal dialogue driven moments have good presence. This is a great soundtrack that is even masterful at times. This release also includes a 2.0 surround option, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
MGM has given This Is Spinal Tap a wealth of bonus materials also, including one of the most entertaining audio commentaries of all time. This track features the member of Spinal Tap (in character) discussing the film, and I don’t think a serious word is uttered the entire time. I think this is almost like having a second version of the film, the guys are that amusing and hilarious here. Awesome music videos for Gimme Some Money, Big Bottom, (Listen To) The Flower People, and Hell Hole have been included too, which I am very pleased to have. Next is a selection of over an hour’s worth of deleted scenes, which offer even more hilarity with the guys, though some are just extended or alternate takes of existing scenes. A few short pieces have been tacked on also, including Catching Up With Marty DiBergi, The Flower People Press Conference, and Spinal Tap’s visit to the Joe Franklin Show. Rounding out the disc are some trailers, a Heavy Metal Memories piece, three television spots, and some Rock and Rolls commercials. The second disc is a DVD with a live Spinal Tap performance of Stonehenge, as well as a National Geographic interview with Nigel about Stonehenge.
- (1.85:1) Aspect Ratio
- Video Codec: AVC
- Audio: DTS HD Master
- Theatrical Trailer
- Audio Commentary
- Deleted Scene(s)
- Digital Copy
- 2 Disc Set