By Ben Bjork
Spinal Tap still rocks
“This Is Spinal Tap,” the quintessential mockumentary and seminal rock and roll movie, has landed on Netflix. If you haven’t heard of the film, or the titular heavy metal band that it stars, it’s probably because you weren’t paying attention. “Spinal Tap” gets regular play on music television, and is referenced by everything from children’s movies to insurance commercials, to the point where songs from the movie have even been featured, unironically, in a Guitar Hero game.
The film is carried by masterful performances by Michael McKean and Christopher Guest, who mock the excessive and indulgent personalities of music icons like Keith Richards and Gene Simmons with a sharp wit. However, they imbue the characters David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel with a goofiness and lovability that their source material often lacks.
“Spinal Tap” was almost entirely improvised, yet never feels rambling or desperate due to the incredibly concise editing. Each joke lasts only as long as it needs to, and the scenes end well before they feel tiresome or worn out. This fast pace, along with the performer’s ability to produce gag after gag, gives the film a sense of realness, as if these characters would be doing this whether or not we were there to watch. Although “Spinal Tap” was not the first mockumentary, it popularized the form and proved it to be an effective medium for comedy, paving the way for the likes of “The Office” and “Borat.”
Fans of ‘Always Sunny’ will enjoy FUBAR
“FUBAR” stars Terry and Deaner, two young Canadian headbangers who listen to too much heavy metal music and drink more cheap beer in one day than any person should be capable of. This mockumentary follows their exploits of doing, well, not very much around their small town in Calgary. However, to write off “FUBAR” because it doesn’t have much of a plot or character development is to miss the forest for the trees, and to ignore a fun (if ultimately rather dumb) comedy.
The leads, played by David Lawrence and Paul Spence seem to be exaggerated caricatures, yet don’t seem too ridiculous when paired next to the actual townspeople who shotgun beers, jump off bridges, and get into street fights. VICE Studios recently announced that a “FUBAR” television series is set to premiere by the end of 2017, a decision that makes a lot of sense in our current media environment. Though it was not a massive success in 2002, there is almost certainly an audience for the dark humor of FUBAR today, especially for fans of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Trailer Park Boys.”