I know it seems like I watch a lot of movies and therefore write a lot of these entries, but I actually watch more, I just don’t have time to blog them all. Yeah, I’m surprised I’m married too.
The plot: The small Missouri town of Blaine is celebrating it’s sesquicentennial. (I just wanna point out that I’m really surprised I spelled sesquicentennial right without spell check. Go me!) In addition to the usual parades and what not the Blaine community theater will be performing a production of Red, White & Blaine, an original musical written by local high school drama teacher Corky St. Claire, (Christopher Guest.) who appears to be flamboyantly gay though he maintains he has a wife. The cast is created through open auditions, which includes travel agents Ron and Sheila Albertson (Fred Willard and Catherine O’Hara, respectively) local dentist Dr. Alan Pearl (Eugene Levy) and Dairy Queen employee Libby Mae Brown. (Parker Posey) A couple of other actors are hand picked from the townspeople by Corky based on his specific artistic visions. After assembling his cast Corky begins rehearsals, and sends out requests to his old theater connections in New York, hoping to get a write up. One of them, Mort Guffman, agrees to view the show, Corky is elated and quickly realizes that his show will need a larger budget than he was originally granted. He petitions the city council for $100,000, which is denied as the whole civic budget is a mere $15,000 for the entire year. Corky quits the show in frustration, and his musical director Lloyd Miller is given directorial duties. The cast rebels and along with the city council members convince Corky to return. On the night of the show, a seat is reserved for Guffman, and Corky is forced to step into one of the roles due to a cast member backing out at the last minute. Hilarity ensues.
Like many people I first saw Christopher Guest in This is Spinal Tap, which was a film in a similar style to Waiting for Guffman. Both movies, along with Guest’s later films Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, feature a strong cast of character actors and improvised dialogue. I love this style of movie, though I will say I enjoyed Spinal Tap, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind more. This is only Guest’s second directorial effort, so this can be forgiven. I don’t want to make it sound like this is a bad movie, it’s not, it’s just less polished than his later works, as you might expect.
I fucking love Eugene Levy and Fred Willard. Therefore, any time either one of them is on screen is pure magic. (Speaking of Fred Willard, you should check out his appearance on The Nerdist podcast here.) Catherine O’Hara comes in as a close second for Teh Awesome, with Parker Posey taking the bronze in this event.
Something I mentioned to Porter (who was watching the movie with me) was that while this movie flirts with putting hapless folks into uncomfortable situations, it never goes into Meet the Parents territory. For me, Meet the Parents is the perfect example of the current school of “comedies” which seem to derive their humor solely from putting people into situations that are so awkward or embarrassing that you are surprised they don’t commit suicide. I HATE movies like that, presumably because I cannot help but feel the discomfort or embarrassment of the character on screen, and no part of that is fun for me. This movie simply puts eccentric characters, who are completely oblivious of their eccentricities, in front of the camera and lets them be themselves. I dig it.
The play, which we watch at the end of the film, is surprisingly competent. I found myself rather impressed. It’s not good by any means, but it wasn’t the trainwreck I thought it would be. Meh, check it out for yourself.
Check out the trailer here.