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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

This Is Spinal Tap (1984) ft. Shane Rogers


Guest: Shane Rogers, Comedian and Host of Midnight Facts for Insomniacs 


Cast:

  • Rob Reiner as Martin "Marty" Di Bergi/Director/Writer/Music

  • Michael McKean as David St. Hubbins/Writer/Music

  • Christopher Guest as Nigel Tufnel/Writer/Music

  • Harry Shearer as Derek Smalls/Writer/Music

  • Tony Hendra as Ian Faith

  • R.J. Parnell (drummer for Atomic Rooster) as Mick Shrimpton

  • David Kaff as Viv Savage

  • June Chadwick as Jeanine Pettibone

  • Bruno Kirby as Limo Driver Tommy Pischedda

  • Ed Begley Jr. as John "Stumpy" Pepys

  • Danny Kortchmar as Ronnie Pudding

  • Fran Drescher as Bobbi Flekman


*Recognition:

  • This is Spinal Tap was released on March 2, 1984. It would only make $4.7 million on a budget of $2 million placing it roughly in 127th place for 1984.

  • The critics however lauded the film for its wit, humor, and its ability to make Spinal Tap feel like a real band. Even musicians felt it was true to their own experiences.

  • In 2000, the AFI included it on their list of 100 Years...100 Laughs at #29.

  • In 2008, Empire magazine ranked This Is Spinal Tap #48 on its list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, and The New York Times placed the film on their list of The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made.

  • In January 2010, Total Film placed This Is Spinal Tap on its list of The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time.

  • In 2011, Time Out London named it the best comedy film of all time.

  • In November 2015, the film was ranked the 11th funniest screenplay by the Writers Guild of America in its list of 101 Funniest Screenplays.

  • In 2002, This Is Spinal Tap was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

  • Since its release, This is Spinal Tap has gone on to have many cultural references and influences within the movie and music industries including the use of the term Spinal Tap specifically as a common insult for pretentious bands.

  • In May 2022, director Rob Reiner announced that he is working on a sequel to the film, which will include him returning to play DiBergi, and McKean, Shearer, and Guest as the members of Spinal Tap. The film will be Castle Rock Entertainment's first film following its revival in 2021. Filming is scheduled to start this month (Feb 2024).

  • This is Spinal Tap currently holds a 96% among critics on RT, a 92 score on Metacritic, and a 3.9/5 on Letterboxd.


Plot Summary: "This is Spinal Tap" is a mockumentary comedy film that follows the fictional British heavy metal band Spinal Tap on their disastrous and hilarious journey on a tour of the United States to promote their latest album, "Smell the Glove." During their tour, they encounter a series of absurd and calamitous events, including botched performances, absurd backstage antics, and a continually changing lineup of drummers who meet untimely ends. Through interviews with the band members and behind-the-scenes footage, the film satirizes the rock music industry, showcasing the absurdities and egos that often accompany fame and success. "This is Spinal Tap" is a cult classic known for its sharp wit, memorable characters, and iconic scenes that have solidified its place as one of the greatest comedies in cinematic history.


Did You Know:

  • IMDB normally allows users to rate films only up to ten stars, but specifically for Spinal Tap, the site allows users to rate the film eleven stars, referring to the "Up to eleven" scene.

  • Several rock stars have commented on what an uncannily accurate spoof of the rock and heavy metal world this film was. Ozzy Osbourne said when he first watched the film, he was the only person who wasn't laughing; he thought it was a real documentary. U2 guitarist The Edge said, "I didn't laugh, I wept. It was so close to the truth." Marillion had five drummers in the space of a year between their first two albums, which guitarist Steve Rothery later admitted was "like Spinal Tap".

  • Rob Reiner originally was going to be one of the band members. He ended up directing after Harry Shearer said he "didn't look good in spandex."

  • When Nigel rubs a violin against his guitar during his solo, it's a parody of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, who used a violin bow to play his guitar during many concert performances.

  • After the film opened, several people told Rob Reiner that they loved the film but he should have chosen a more well-known band for a documentary.


Best Performance: Rob Reiner (Di Bergi/Director)/Christopher Guest (Nigel)

Best Secondary Performance: Michael McKean (David)/Christopher Guest (Nigel)

Most Charismatic Award: Christopher Guest (Nigel)/Harry Shearer (Derek)/Michael McKean (David)

Best Scene:

  • History of Tap's Drummers

  • Airport Security

  • Don't Point At It

  • Smell the Glove

  • Hallway Maze

  • Stonehenge

  • Jazz Odyssey

Favorite Scene: Stonehenge

Most Indelible Moment: Stonehenge/Airport Security


In Memorium:

  • Johanna von Koczian, 90, German actress (Victor and Victoria, The Marriage of Mr. Mississippi, Our House in Cameroon)

  • Lanny Flannery, 81, American actor (Miller's Crossing, Signs, Men in Black 3)

  • Paul D'Amato, 76, American actor (Slap Shot, The Deer Hunter, Heaven's Gate)


Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...

Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?

Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.

Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?

Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?


[Reading a review of Spinal Tap's latest album]

Marty DiBergi: "This pretentious ponderous collection of religious rock psalms is enough to prompt the question, 'What day did the Lord create Spinal Tap, and couldn't he have rested on that day too?'"


[When asked what happened to their first drummer]

David St. Hubbins: He died in a bizarre gardening accident...

Nigel Tufnel: Authorities said... best leave it... unsolved.


Nigel Tufnel: It's part of a trilogy, a musical trilogy I'm working on in D minor which is the saddest of all keys, I find. People weep instantly when they hear it, and I don't know why.

Marty DiBergi: It's very nice.

Nigel Tufnel: You know, just simple lines intertwining, you know, very much like - I'm really influenced by Mozart and Bach, and it's sort of in between those, really. It's like a Mach piece, really. It's sort of...

Marty DiBergi: What do you call this?

Nigel Tufnel: Well, this piece is called "Lick My Love Pump".


David St. Hubbins: I do not, for one, think that the problem was that the band was down. I think that the problem may have been, that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. Alright? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object.


David St. Hubbins: It's such a fine line between stupid, and uh...

Nigel Tufnel: Clever.

David St. Hubbins: Yeah, and clever.


Nigel Tufnel: It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.


David St. Hubbins: But you're not as confused as him are you. I mean, it's not your job to be as confused as Nigel.


Ian Faith: The Boston gig has been cancelled...

David St. Hubbins: What?

Ian Faith: Yeah. I wouldn't worry about it though, it's not a big college town.


Marty DiBergi: David St. Hubbins... I must admit I've never heard anybody with that name.

David St. Hubbins: It's an unusual name, well, he was an unusual saint, he's not a very well known saint.

Marty DiBergi: Oh, there actually is, uh... there was a Saint Hubbins?

David St. Hubbins: That's right, yes.

Marty DiBergi: What was he the saint of?

David St. Hubbins: He was the patron saint of quality footwear.


[Nigel, introducing the Stonehenge theme concert]

Nigel Tufnel: In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, an ancient race of people... the Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing...


Nigel Tufnel: We've got Armadillos in our trousers. It's really quite frightening.


Marty DiBergi: Let's talk about your reviews a little bit. Regarding Intravenus de Milo - "This tasteless cover is a good indication of the lack of musical invention within. The musical growth rate of this band cannot even be charted. They are treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry."

Nigel Tufnel: That's... that's nitpicking, isn't it?


Viv Savage: [when asked by Marty if he has a creed he lives by] Have... a good time... all the time.


[reading a review of the album "Shark Sandwich"]

Marty DiBergi: The review you had on "Shark Sandwich", which was merely a two word review, just said "Shit Sandwich".


Bobbi Flekman: You put a greased naked woman on all fours with a dog collar around her neck, and a leash, and a man's arm extended out up to here, holding onto the leash, and pushing a black glove in her face to sniff it. You don't find that offensive? You don't find that sexist?

Ian Faith: This is 1982, Bobbi, c'mon!

Bobbi Flekman: That's right, it's 1982! Get out of the '60s. We don't have this mentality anymore.

Ian Faith: Well, you should have seen the cover they wanted to do! It wasn't a glove, believe me.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 8.17

Impact/Significance: 6.5

Novelty: 9

Classic-ness: 9

Rewatchability: 7.83

Audience Score: 9 (88% Google, 92% RT)

Total: 49.5


Remaining Questions:

  • None

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