When one thinks of Christopher Guest, one thinks humor...in fact, one thinks belly laughs...the man is just plain funny. From This is Spinal Tap (directed by Meathead remember) to Waiting for Guffman to Best in Show, he has shown us that he knows the fake documentary. Once again, he has produced the finest in make belive reality. Now, this is not his finest work, but his worst ranks just below many folks best. I mean, you don't marry Jamie Lee Curtis and become a lord of the peerage without having something going for you.
The Mighty Wind is the story of three bands, The Folksman, The New Main Street Singers (not to be confused with The Main Street Singers) and Mitch and Mickey, all famous folk musicians from the late 60's coming together to honor the death of their late producer (who's son is played by the incomprable Bob Balaban). It's a simple story of their reunions and/or finally making it to the big time playing at The Town Hall in New York. Christopher Guest has brought his incredible cast of characters back together again to produce yet another brilliant, witty, dry look at culture. Be it Rock and Roll, the Stage, Dog Shows or Folk Music, he shows affection for his characters while not having a problem poking a little fun at them.
If you've seen a Guest film, you know his regulars, so you know that Fred Willard, Michael McKeon, Parker Posey, Ed Begley, Jr., Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, Larry Miller and Harry Shearer will shine just as bright as always (and make sure to notice the cameo by Mary Gross - though not a reguler, it's good to see her getting a little screen time). But especially noteworthy are the performances of John Michael Higgins, who was brilliant in The Late Shift and Best in Show; Eugene Levy, who co-wrote both the screenplay and music/lyrics and Catherine O'Hara, also co-songwriter. First, the music is exceptional. I play the guitar and feel great awe for those able to play folk music, much less write a tune or two. But the music in this film is incredible, not that we should expect less from the men that brought us Spinal Tap. If you rent this on DVD, please make sure you check out the deleted scene in which Levy and O'Hara do their duet at the end.
And this brings me to what I felt was the keeper in this movie. Usually, when you watch a Christoher Guest film, you want to laugh, but you don't expect to be touched as well. In this movie, Eugene Levy shows us range. One dimensional, yes, but something we have not seen before (unless you watch a lot of old SCTV re-runs). And Catherin O'Hara...well, I was impressed by her fifteen minutes in Home Alone, but to see her in this film is to see that this woman needs much more work than she gets right now! I did not come into this movie thinking that I would really give a damn about any of these characters, but what she and Levy do with Mitch and Mickey is truly exceptional. Frankly, I could have watched an entire film about these characters and been enthralled the entire time.
Whenever I see one of Guest's films. I want to watch them over and over again. I cannot say that this is the best of his three directorial efforts, but then again, I cannot in good faith rank them at all as they are so different and bring so much to the viewer - you simply must watch them all over and over again. Thank God there is one Saturday Night Live alumni that does not overstep his bounds. Three is not a large number, but it certainly keeps us coming back for more. Watch this movie. That is all.