Easily the funniest mockumentary on rock music and certainly one of the funnier movies in recent years, "This Is Spinal Tap" is an example of when director Rob Reiner was making great films and not irritating relationship dramas.(Sorry, I can't get over "Story Of Us") Director Reiner also stars as "Tap" director Marty DeBergi, a lame documentary filmmaker who shows a band that's not particularly bright either not in the best light.
The band mainly stars Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) and a number of different drummers who all fall prey to various accidents. The band is featured in a number of interviews that are hilarious as they talk about their music and analyze it in typically no-brained fashion, while their popularity is declining all the time.
The mainly improved situations are quite funny, and the three actors do a fine job with their performances. There are some genuinely hilarious shots at the recording industry, but the majority of the film is simply just entertaining.
VIDEO: MGM has given "Spinal Tap" a new anamorphic transfer and the film, which is now 16 years old, looks pretty good, with the exception of a few moments of wear and tear. I really didn't see much (if anything) in the way of pixelation or shimmering. The problem is a little bit of grain now and then, and some marks/speckles on the print used. The bigger problem though, was that the subtitles that were originally part of the movie were missing from this DVD. Copies that are out now in stores should be corrected, but if you recieve a copy w/o them, take it back to your local store.
Sharpness is generally fair; some scenes look better than others, but the overall impression is one that's a fairly soft looking picture. Detail and clarity fare pretty decently, and neither are particularly lacking. Colors are slightly faded looking, but not terrible.
Aside from some slight wear and problems, this is probably the best that "Tap" has looked.
SOUND: The stereo sound of the original release has been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, but the film still really isn't that agressive or a presentation, with only minimal (at best) use of the surrounds. Fidelity is fair, and there really isn't much at all in the way of bass. The music does get a good presentation from the front, and doesn't really suffer from any problems besides the age. Dialogue is clear and, aside from a few small instances, easily heard.
MENUS:: The menus are fantastic; although MGM has dissapointed in some other areas lately, their menus are quite good. The main menu opens with some nifty animation, and also, the members of the band talking about what the options are on the main menu. Sub-menus are not all animated, but do have music in the background and are easily navigated.
Commentary: This is a commentary from the members of Spinal Tap in character, and it's easily one of the most hilarious I've ever heard. The majority of the commentary is spent with the members discussing how the director and their management took money from and make them look terrible. A lot of comments are along the lines of "who the hell is that?" or "that guy was a jerk" as the group remembers the time during shooting of the movie. Some of the comments do get a bit repetitive as they comment on "I wasn't even aware he was recording", but there are some moments where the band comments on the people in the film and their music that are priceless.
Deleted Scenes: There are over an hour worth of deleted scenes from the film, which are pretty much hit-and-miss. Some of them are quite funny, while others should rightly have been left out of the picture.
Catching Up With Marty DeBergi: A new interview with DeBergi(director Rob Reiner in character) that talks about his experiences filming the band and what it meant to him. He also talks about what he's done since. Reiner is a pretty funny actor, and should be in more pictures.
Trailers: Theatrical trailer, promo clip, teaser, 3 TV spots.
Music Videos: "(Listen to the) Flower People", "Hell Hole", "Gimme Some Money", and "Big Bottom."
Spinal Tap on The Joe Franklin Show: A fairly bad copy of the group on the Joe Franklin show - an older show I'd never heard of with a host who doesn't seem to know what's going on with the exception of the questions he has in front of him.
Also: Flower People press confrence.
Final Thoughts: First off, "Spinal Tap" is a funny film definitely worth recommending. Secondly, if you already have the Criterion version DVD you may want to keep that one and get this since that has two commentaries this doesn't have(the commentary here is new). In other words, with both you'd have the "whole tap". If you don't have the Criterion version, this is the only version available, and it's definitely worth a look.
The Film B
Video 80/B- = (320/400 possible points)
Audio: 84/B = (336/400 possible points)
Extras: 89/B+ = (267/300 possible points)
Menus: 89/B+ = (198/200 possible points)
Value: 85/B = (255/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: B
DVD GRADE: B