Blu-ray review: This is Spinal Tap

This is Spinal Tap from MGM Home Entertainment
This is Spinal Tap from MGM Home Entertainment
This is Spinal Tap from MGM Home Entertainment
This is Spinal Tap from MGM Home Entertainment

This is Spinal Tap (MGM Home Entertainment, Rated: R, $34.99) is director Marty DeBergi’s expose of an aging rock band on its last tour. This 1984 behind the scenes documentary raised the bar for exploring the fine line between clever and stupid while giving the fictional Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls a new lease on life.

Watching the mock rockumentary 25 years later, It’s hard to believe I am still seeing the sort of posing and posturing skewered by Tap still prevalent in today’s hard rock scene.

Director, and actor, Rob Reiner (who portrayed DeBergi ) unleashed cinematic magic combining the comedic might of Christopher Guest (Nigel), Michael McKean (David) and Harry Shearer (Derek).

Watching these gentlemen convincingly get lost on their way to the stage, perform hard rock very believable rock songs and then sit down to introspectively revel as Spinal Tap is an often eye-watering experiencing —especially for the musicians in the audience.

As always watch for the appearances of Fran Drescher as the bitchy PR flak Bobbie Flekman, Paul Shaffer as promoter Artie (kick my ass) Fufkin, Bruno Kirby as the Sinatra loving chauffer, Ed Begley Jr. as first drummer John (Stumpy) Pepys and Billy Crystal and Dana Carvey as a pair of wait staff mimes.

My fond college memories of first seeing the movie may continue to add to my enthusiasm for this film but so what? Anyone with an appreciation for wicked satire, and amplifiers that go up to “11,” will not be disappointed.

The goods: The McKean, Guest and Shearer connection is frightening to behold as these masters of improvisation were well on their way to comedy sainthood here. They would go on to dazzle in “A Mighty Wind,” but they set the bar as Spinal Tap.

The bads: The Blu-ray format does nothing to give viewers with 55-inch screens reason to embrace the high definition format. Additionally, none of the extras take advantage of any of the current technology for viewer interactivity, check out any Universal Home Video release for examples. Short of employing the Lowrey Digital Restoration Process to the print, Spinal Tap need not ever been seen in high definition..

The mandatory extras: Culled from the 2000 Special Edition DVD release, the best optional commentary track I have ever heard returns. It finds the band ripping Mr. DeBergi and their management team for the hatchet job that became known as “This is Spinal Tap.”

It’s like listening to a whole new movie with the core members of Spinal Tap in rare, spontaneous form.

And, don’t forget the hour of deleted scenes that could easily have made a second “deeper behind the scenes” release or the four music videos, including the classic “Gimme Some Money.”

Above and beyond: A second disc offers the bands performance of “Stonehenge” at Earth Day 2007, (man these guys got old and the damn stage props still don’t work) and Nigel Tufnel is interviewed for the National Geographic Channel. Both enjoyable but that disc could have fit much more content. How about the Royal Albert Hall performance from 1992 available in ” A Spinal Tap Reunion: The 25th Anniversary London Sell-Out.”

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