A Mighty Wind review by The Grim Ringler

Director Christopher Guest is insistent on not calling his films ‘mockumentaries’ – or films that are pseudo-documentaries that, well, mock their subjects – and having seen all three of his films (Waiting for Guffman, and Best in Show), I have to agree with him. To call his films ‘mockumentaries’ is to both lessen the strength of the films, and to imply that the films are made with one eye winking at the audience, which just isn’t so. Guest’s films are loving homage’s to subcultures that we rarely ever see and never get to experience. And his films are far from mocking towards their subjects, they are heart-felt interpretations of those worlds and subcultures and give life to things and people we can only look at and smile usually. Not once does Guest or any of his wonderful actors make fun of their subject or play it so broad as to make their character a parody. He and his cast find the innate humor in these people and their lives, and shows how wonderfully silly and sweet their passions are. And perhaps not the best of the three, A Mighty Wind is the sweetest and most sincere film of the three.

After a legendary folk-music promoter dies his son hatches the idea to get his three major acts together again for one last tribute show to pay honor to the man that made them all famous. The three acts are – The “New” Main Street Singers, who are a bizarre group of nine that sing poppy numbers that sound as much like revival songs as they do commercials – the Folksmen – who are sort of like Peter, Paul, and Mary, but, you know, as men and sing catchy and kitschy songs that you cannot help but clap to – and Mitch and Mickey – who are a duo that were once a couple and sang romantic ballads until their romance ended thus ending their music careers. The film follows all three acts, documentary style, as they prepare for their big show at New York’s Town Hall, each group and its members becoming more and more fleshed out as the big date gets closer. The film though really centers on Mitch and Mickey, who are seeing one another for the first time in decades, neither sure what to think or feel as they awkwardly prepare to perform together again. The tension and obvious love between the two characters is amazing and really brings a depth and sweetness to the movie that makes this Guest’s most accomplished film by far. As the date gets ever closer though Mitch begins fearing the thought of playing live again and it looks as though he might relapse into the state he had been in when institutionalized years earlier. The show goes on though, which becomes a minor miracle, but not without hitches, the drama coming when no one quite knows what will happen when, and if, Mitch and Mickey play again.

The film really is pretty straight forward, as most of his movies are. There are no real twists, well, ok, there are but they are character twists, not plot twists, and the bulk of the tension is based around Eugene Levy’s wonderful Mitch and Catherine O’Hara’s Mickey. Both bring a wonderful depth and honesty to their characters that give the film its poignancy and lend the entire film a sweetness it doesn’t have otherwise. The actors, across the boards, are phenomenal, and each does a wonderful job of creating a voice and personality for their character no matter how small or large their part. The music really does stand tall about everything else though, becoming its own entity and stealing the show. And I tell you what, mark my words, now that there is a soundtrack out, I really expect it to do what the soundtrack for O Brother Where Art Thou did, not in numbers, but in strength of sales and how long it stays in people’s CD players. The music is that good. And the heck of it is that most of it is dead on, in that it all sounds like stuff you’d have heard during the hey-day of old school folk and none of the songs, while all are moderately funny, makes fun of the people that sing them.

The film is ably made and is really a delight to find during what will soon be the middle of the summer movie season. My guess is that the film will stick around, in one theater or another, for most of the summer because it is just that good, and you will hopefully get a chance to see it. Honest, this really is a movie you should see. It’s a rare treat when you get a movie this funny, this smart, and this sincere. And during a summer of lowbrow movies, it’s nice to have a brainy alternative.


9 out of 10 Jackasses
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