This is Spinal Tap (1984)

Director: Rob Reiner

Starring: Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest,
Michael McKean

‘The eighties, much worse than the nineties’, or at least that is what the boys in Travis had to say about things; watching the Tap perform you might come to a different conclusion. Big sets, big hair and the biggest band Britain ever produced combine to give you one of celluloid’s classic musical offerings: as the tag line says:

  Does for rock and roll what ‘The Sound of Music’ did for hills”

     First released in 1984, Tap takes the mock documentary style and uses it to great effect; the film rips through the music industry taking no prisoners. All the rock clichés are there, and all are camped up to the extreme. If only people had taken the meaning of the film to heart, then might we have been spared all the stadium rock bands that predominated in that decade?

     The film was the work of four friends Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, and Michael McKean who were offered $10,000 to produce an initial script and a short version of the film called Spinal Tap: The Final Tour. Some of the scenes in the actual film come from this and most of the others are ad-libs, with the general idea of a scene being given to the actors and the rest left up to them. There is a very sought-after DVD version of the film that contains about an hour’s worth of extra scenes, as well as the full version of the short. There is actually a full version of the film in existence where all the improvisation is left, which runs to about six hours!

     This film is also Reiner's directorial debut; he went on to much acclaim with When Harry Met Sally. Shearer went on to have a permanent role in The Simpsons playing Smithers, Mr Burns and anyone for whom an almost passable English accent is useful. Christopher Guest and Michael McKean went on to success mainly in TV, but teamed up again in Small Soldiers which was directed by (guess who..) Rob Reiner.


Simon Moore