A Mighty Wind (2003)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Mockumentary, Musical Comedy, Reunion Films  |   Release Date - Apr 16, 2003 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Mark Deming

If you've gotten an A+ more than once, no one ever seems to be entirely satisfied when your report card says A-, and that's the biggest bugaboo in reviewing A Mighty Wind. While it's a clever and thoroughly enjoyable comedy on its own terms, knowing that A Mighty Wind comes from the same creative team which made Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show sets up some unusually high expectations, and when one makes the inevitable comparisons, A Mighty Wind falls short. The film's biggest failing is that while much of the same superb comic cast from those two films is on hand this time out (and Harry Shearer is on board as Spinal Tap go undercover as the Folksmen), many of them simply aren't given enough to do, especially Parker Posey, Don Lake, and Michael Hitchcock, while Fred Willard, Larry Miller, and Jennifer Coolidge are saddled with roles that are simply beneath their abilities. While Guffman and Best in Show both had great moments where characters were able to strongly, clearly, and hilariously define their characters in a few brief moments, A Mighty Wind has more than its share of players who have funny shtick but not much of a persona to go along with it, and the film suffers for it. However, the moments that do work compensate for the flaws, and many of the film's best moments come in unexpected places. The songs brilliantly walk a line between sincere tribute and vicious parody of early-'60s folk tunes (especially "Old Joe's Place" and "Never Did No Wanderin'"), and Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara are not only hilarious but unexpectedly moving as a divorced couple forced to deal with a lot of old baggage as they prepare for their reunion gig; would that every film about divorce could be as insightful. If -- to belabor the academic metaphor -- A Mighty Wind isn't the magna cum laude candidate you likely expect from Christopher Guest after his previous two directorial efforts, it's still strong enough to make the dean's list, and suggests Guest and his repertory company may have a few more surprises in store for their next effort.