A Mighty Wind
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French). Warner Bros. 27718. PG-13. $27.95.
Film *** 1/2
The latest in a hilarious string of comedies directed by Christopher Guest and clearly inspired by Rob Reiner's 1984 classic Spinal Tap (which Guest both appeared in and co-wrote), A Mighty Wind follows in the fresh footsteps of Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman.
In the early 1960s, folk music made a serious run at replacing rock'n'roll as the dominant popular musical form. The glossy folk groups that grabbed headlines in those days—the Kingston Trio, the Chad Mitchell Trio, the Brothers Four, the New Christy Minstrels, the Limelighters, Ian and Sylvia, and Peter, Paul & Mary—poured out dozens of hit albums. Our cultural history, and possibly our history in general, might have been very different had the British invasion of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and others not revived rock and knocked folk music off center stage. But at least one of the groups (Peter, Paul & Mary) remained active for another decade, and the music itself strongly influenced the soft rock of the early 1970s and, I believe, today's country music as well.
But any musical genre is ripe for parody, and this one is no exception. Using his inimitable mockumentary style, heavily laden with "interviews," Guest milks his material for plenty of laughs, though sometimes he strains a bit; the film isn't quite up to his sendups of the dog-show circuit and community theater. Perhaps that's because A Mighty Windcan't help displaying genuine affection for its subject, with surprisingly good—and often touching—musical performances. The climactic concert scene has so much warmth and joy, in fact, that the epilogue dragging us back to low comedy almost feels like an insult to what we've just witnessed. That wrenching emotional shift is the film's only serious flaw.
The picture and sound quality are good though not exceptional (one or two of the musical numbers are good enough to lift the sound rating). And the disc is loaded with extras, including a flood of added scenes, an informative and dryly humorous commentary track by Guest and actor Eugene Levy, and much more.—TJN