Casabloga: This Is Spinal Tap

This is actually going to be a two part review. I was going to do my first double review of two unconnected movies (as opposed to whole trilogies like The Butterfly Effect or comparing a remake like Carrie), but decided to just split them into two separate reviews. So I’ll post this one tonight and the second one tomorrow night.

This Is Spinal Tap is a 1984 mockumentary directed by Rob Reiner and starring Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. It follows fictional rock back Spinal Tap, which has been around for over seventeen years (at the time of the film), as they tour America for the first time in years.

It is shot so well that had I not known it was satire when I first saw it years ago, I’d have probably thought Spinal Tap was an actual band that I just somehow missed.

The film has multiple iconic scenes, most famously the “Turn it up to 11” scene. But one of my favourite scenes, one that never fails to make me laugh, is when the band is standing at Elvis’ grave trying to harmonize to Heartbreak Hotel.

As mentioned above, the film makes this feel like a real band. So much so that I’m kind of curious what they’d be doing today. There have been a couple of updates, but nothing as big as an official full scale sequel.

The four main actors went on to become legends in their own right.

Rob Reiner, who both directed it and played the fictional director, Marty Di Bergi, finished the ’80s by directing Stand By MeThe Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally. He started the ’90s by directing the Stephen King classic Misery. He’s done quite a few between then and now, with an upcoming film, Shock and Awe, in the works.

Michael McKean went on to be on Saturday Night Live in the ’90s, as well as appear in numerous films. He currently stars in Better Call Saul as Chuck McGill.

Christopher Guest also went onto Saturday Night Live, but immediately. He’s appeared in numerous films and shows, such as The Invention of Lying and Family Tree,

Harry Shearer, like the other two band members, went on to be a cast member on Saturday Night Live. However, today he is best known as one of the main voices on The Simpsons.

This Is Spinal Tap really set the bar for future mockumentaries. Countless have been made in the over thirty years since it’s release, and there are very few that are even worth mentioning. However, there is one that came out fairly recently which I think is the closest thing to a modern This Is Spinal Tap we could have hoped for. That will be the subject of tomorrow’s review. Never thought I would say this on a Casabloga review, but…


Casabloga: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

This Is Spinal Tap, the film I reviewed last night, is the mockumentary that changed the genre forever. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is the modern day equivalent of it.

The film follows Conner, played by Andy Samberg, the former leader of the fictional rap group “Style Boyz”. It starts some time after the group split up and Conner has released his first album, his second about to come out. There are interviews with actually celebrities, such as Usher, RZA, and Simon Cowell.

Just as was the case with Spinal Tap, Popstar includes full-length songs. One of the funniest songs is called Equal Rights, which ends with a cameo by ex-Beatle Ringo Starr.

Also like the three stars of Spinal Tap, Andy Samberg was formerly on Saturday Night Live. That show is a great pool of talent from which to draw from. It’s honestly not at all surprising that Samberg went on to make this movie, because he was known on SNL for his Digital Shorts, many of which included rap songs he wrote. This one actually went viral when it aired in 2005.

There’s really not much I can say about it that I didn’t say about Spinal Tap. This has been harder to write than I thought it would be, because I’m trying not to repeat myself.

Basically, if you like films like This Is Spinal Tap, you are definitely going to like Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.

Casabloga: Cars 3

The title of this probably feels like a joke. I never would have thought that a Cars film would end up on my list of the great films of all time. The first film was okay, but was a little over-hyped. The second one is to this day the only Pixar film I have not finished because it was so bad. So when they announced the third one, I rolled my eyes and told my friends, “The only way that film would even be remotely worth it is if there’s a character called Vlad the Impala”.

Then they released the teaser. You have my attention, Pixar.

I’ve been wanting to watch it ever since that teaser released, and I have finally seen it, and it was better than I was hoping. In my opinion, it is the best entry in the entire series, including the two Planes spinoffs (the first was good, the second was better…yes, I watched them).

The following will contain spoilers.

In the subsequent trailers, it was clear that this was either going to be a Rocky V, Rocky Balboa, or Creed story. But it did something I didn’t expect. It starts off as Rocky V, becomes Rocky Balboa, and ends as Creed.

Lightening McQueen’s dramatic crash from the teaser ended up being Rocky’s brain damage from the beginning at the beginning of Rocky V that forced him to retire when he wasn’t ready to. But a younger car, Jackson Storm, is the Mason Dixon of this story that the older car has compete against. In the end, he passes the torch onto Cruz Ramirez, the Adonis Creed of this story.

Right, so the Rocky analogy isn’t exactly perfect, but you get the idea.

I think the reason this one was so good was for two major reasons; 1. While they included Mater, his part was more of a background character. So he wasn’t overused as with the previous two entries. 2) They focused on the right characters. Cruz is a new character, but I feel we know as much about her as if she’d been a part of the story the whole time. That’s how well the character development was done here. When she’s given the opportunity to race, it feels well-earned. Even more so when she actually wins.

I do have to say this; I never thought a movie about sentient vehicles would ever make me cry. There were multiple scenes in this film that had me at least tear up.

I honestly hope they never make another one. End it on a high note like this.