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"A Mighty Wind"

Directed by Christopher Guest.
Written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy.
Starring Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy and Michael McKean.
Release Year:  2003
Review Date:  4/30/03


It’s not as funny as either “Waiting for Guffman” or “Best in Show”, but “A Mighty Wind” still produces plenty of hearty laughs over the course of its faster-than-a-speeding-bullet running time.

“A Mighty Wind”, another in the mockumentary style of films that were made famous by the seminal 1984 classic “This is Spinal Tap”, chronicles a reunion concert of three folk bands--the Folksmen, The New Main Street Singers, and Mitch & Mickey--that come together to celebrate the life of a recently-deceased folk music pioneer.  The bands, which enjoyed their success during the “extended run” of roughly ten years of performing, are made up of the strange characters that normally populate the films of this genre.  So, Mitch (Eugene Levy) is so whacked out that he appears to be recovering from a 30-year drug addiction; the Folksmen (made up of Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean) have reunion barbecues where they reminisce about the good ol’ days from their run 35 years ago; The New Main Street Singers are led by a man named Terry Bohner (John Michael Higgins) that isn’t even an original member of the group, and is married to a former adult film star that has found religion in some, well, VERY strange forms of enlightenment.

And, so on.  The sheer number of oddballs in “A Mighty Wind” provide the film with numerous laughs, none more so than All-American performer Fred Willard, who stole “Best in Show” almost by himself as the hilarious play-by-play man at the dog show proceedings near the end of that film.  Here, as bad-joke teller Mike LaFontaine, just his slightly-racist pronunciation of his signature line “Wha’ happening?” produced chuckle upon chuckle in my screening, as did his joke at the news conference which I won’t give away here.  Jennifer Coolidge, the large-breasted, overdone PR woman in “A Mighty Wind”, gets an assist for the Most Laughs Award as a lame-brained idiot that might do the most hilarious hum in the history of motion pictures.  Shearer--known to most people as The Voice of Skinner/Lovejoy/Burns/Smithers/Flanders on “The Simpsons”--is great here as the third member of the Folksmen and his closing laugh in “A Mighty Wind” will be recognizable to all fans of his TV work on “The Simpsons” if you know the characters.

Like the other films that Christopher Guest has directed, the details of each scene provide most of the laughs (loved the album covers, for example; Levy’s constantly-moving eyelashes are damned funny), and the performances here and the songwriting is particularly strong...but, very familiar and frankly not very original.  When we got out of the screening on Sunday night, all of us in the film group agreed that Guest probably shouldn’t make another mockumentary; this material does feel a little played out and by having the exact same cast from “Best in Show” show up in “A Mighty Wind”--even pairing Levy and Catherine O’Hara together as a couple onscreen again--you produce a “Hey, it’s Ed Begley again” effect with each scene and it doesn’t really create much enthusiasm.

But, the laughs are plentiful and you shouldn’t pass this up.  Just know that “A Mighty Wind” doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary and you’ll be just fine.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09