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A MIGHTY WIND: Documentary-style Comedy. Christopher Guest follows up his acclaimed ensemble comedies Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman with a docu-comedy about three folk groups from the 60s who reunite for a memorial concert in New York City following the death of a legendary folk manager. BEST IN SHOW: The tension is palpable, the excitement is mounting and the heady scent of competition is in the air as hundreds of eager contestants from across America prepare to take part in what is undoubtedly one of the greatest events of their lives -- the Mayflower Dog Show. WAITING FOR GUFFMAN: A town of Blaine, Missouri is preparing for celebrations of its 150th anniversary. Corky St.Clair, an off-off-off-off-off-Broadway director is putting together an amateur theater show about the town's history, starring a local dentist, a couple of travel agents, a Dairy Queen waitress, and a car repairman. He invites a Broadway theater critic Mr. Guffman to see the opening night of the show
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A Mighty Wind
There's A Mighty Wind a-blowin', along with the gales of laughter you'll get from Christopher Guest's third exercise in brilliant "mockumentary." After tackling small-town theatricals in Waiting for Guffman and obsessive dog-show contestants in Best in Show, Guest and his reliable stable of repertory players (including Fred Willard, Parker Posey, and Bob Balaban) apply their improvisational genius to a latter-day reunion of fictional '60s-era folk singers, a comedic goldmine that Guest first explored 30 years earlier on The National Lampoon Radio Hour. Collaborating with costar and cowriter Eugene Levy (who gives the film's funniest performance), Guest is so delicate in his satirical approach that the laughs aren't always obvious, and the subtlety can be as wistful (as in Catherine O'Hara's performance as Levy's auto-harpist partner) as it is hilarious. Some may wish for more blatant comedy, but that would compromise the genuine affection that Guest & Co. have for the music they're spoofing. --Jeff Shannon
Best in Show
Christopher Guest, the man behind Waiting for Guffman, turns his comic eye on another little world that takes itself a bit too seriously: the world of competitive dog shows. Best in Show follows a clutch of dog owners as they prepare and preen their dogs to win a national competition. They include the yuppie pair (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock) who fear they've traumatized their Weimaraner by having sex in front of him; a suburban husband and wife (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara) with a terrier and a long history of previous lovers on the wife's part; the Southern owner of a bloodhound (Guest himself) with aspirations as a ventriloquist; and many more. Following the same "mockumentary" format of Spinal Tap and Guffman, Best in Show takes in some of the dog show officials, the manager of a nearby hotel that allows dogs to stay there, and the commentators of the competition (a particularly knockout comic turn by Fred Willard as an oafish announcer). The movie manages to paint an affectionate portrait of its quirky characters without ever losing sight of the ridiculousness of their obsessive world. Almost all of the scenes were created through improvisation. While lacking the overall focus of a written script, Best in Show captures hilarious and absurd aspects of human behavior that could never be written down. The movie's success is a testament to both the talent of the actors and Guest's discerning eye. --Bret Fetzer
Waiting for Guffman
One of the funniest films in many a moon was hiding at art house theaters in 1998. Former Saturday Night Live comedian and Spinal Tap member Christopher Guest creates the ultimate parody of small-town dramatics, Waiting for Guffman. Corky St. Claire (Guest), an overwhelming drama director hiding out in Blaine, Missouri, thinks he has found the vehicle to put him back on Broadway: the city's 150th anniversary play, Red, White, and Blaine. As rehearsals start, we learn of the town's history ("the stool capital of the world") including a brush with a UFO. The mockumentary follows the various townsfolk wishing for stardom: Parker Posey as a Dairy Queen clerk, Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard as stage-struck travel agents, Matthew Keeslar as the town's bad boy, and Eugene Levy (who cowrote the film with Guest) as a dentist who dreams of glory on the stage. The film is a hoot from beginning to end, and be sure to watch the closing credits. Fans of Guest's deft dry humor should not miss his other parody of the entertainment world, The Big Picture (Kevin Bacon as a student filmmaker who goes to Hollywood). --Doug Thomas
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