Waiting for Guffman (1996)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Mockumentary, Showbiz Comedy  |   Release Date - Jan 31, 1997 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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With its understanding that humor comes from humanity, Waiting for Guffman is a gem of a comedy. At the center of it all is Corky St. Claire, a failed Broadway performer who has become the biggest fish in the very, very small pond that is Blaine, MO. In Corky, director Christopher Guest personifies the recurring motif of the film: self-delusion. While Guest invests the character with every conceivable gay stereotype, there are references to a Mrs. St. Claire. Guest is not playing this for cheap laughs; he is underscoring the thematic center of the film. Instead of facing up to what they really are, these characters lose themselves in the make-believe world of community theater. Waiting for Guffman is populated by characters unwilling or unable to face themselves. Allan Pearl (the town dentist), Ron and Sheila Albertson (Blaine's travel agents and theater stars), and Libby Mae Brown all lead lives of quiet desperation, revealed in sharply observed scenes and monologues that prove them each to be at best self-delusional and at worst utterly clueless about themselves. The central conceit of the film, that a Broadway producer would come to Missouri to see their show, is a metaphor for how far these characters are from living in their own worlds. There are big laughs in the film such as the montage of townsfolk auditioning for the show, a revealing dinner out with the Pearls and the Albertsons, and the tour of Corky's movie memorabilia (featuring My Dinner With Andre action figures). But at its heart, Waiting for Guffman is concerned with sad people. If the filmmakers didn't love these people so much, the movie would come off as cruel. Fortunately, they do, and the result is a bittersweet comic masterpiece.