Spinal Tap

This is Spinal Tap

Released 1984

Review by: Disco Hulk

First of all, this isn’t a real documentary. I didn’t know that the first time I watched it. I had no idea, until the scene where they show all the album covers. I was kind of disappointed when I found out, because I liked the songs and would totally listen to them. I understand there is a soundtrack though, so that’s almost as good. I’m planning to check it out one of these days.

Despite not being a real documentary, this movie is pretty much all you’d expect of a documentary about a band whose popularity peaked in the late seventies and was waning by the mid-eighties when they went on tour with a film crew. There are clips of performances with crazy elaborate set ups, behind the scenes tension among the band members, and a bossy girlfriend. The only thing lacking is the out of control drug and alcohol fueled party scenes we’ve come to expect from bands like Spinal Tap.

What is Spinal Tap? Spinal Tap is an English band touring the US, and early scenes of the mockumentary show them in elaborate costumes and with over the top effects while they promote their album Smell the Glove. Things get off to an inauspicious start when the album cover, which features a woman wearing a leash with a glove held in front of her, is deemed offensive. The cover is replaced with a solid black cover that nobody seems happy with.

As the movie goes on, we see shows getting canceled as the auditoriums get smaller and less crowded, until they are left playing increasingly ridiculous venues, including a zoo. Throughout this, tensions rise between the band members, especially Nigel, the lead guitarist, and lead singer David’s girlfriend Jeanine. Eventually Ian, the band manager, is fired and replaced with Jeanine, which finally leads to Nigel quitting the band by walking out mid-performance after several intercom announcements interrupt the show they are playing on a naval base.

Nigel returns, however, during the last show of the tour to tell them Ian has found out that one of their singles, Sex Farm, is number five on the charts in Japan. Spinal Tap is reunited and goes on tour there. We see Nigel back on stage, we see Ian and Jeanine standing together, and we see Spinal Tap lose their third drummer--this time to explosion. And we get the impression that they’ll be OK. At least for a little while. If they were real.


Theatrical Trailer


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