Waiting for Guffman (1996) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: R for language
Running Time: 84 min.
Cast: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, Larry Miller, Bob Balaban, Brian Doyle-Murray, Bob Odenkirk (cameo)
Director: Christopher Guest
Screenplay: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy
Review published January 1, 1998
From some of the creative minds behind Best in Show, and most of those of This is Spinal Tap, it should come as no surprise that Waiting for Guffman is a mock-umentary, and a pretty good one at that. The screenplay is credited to director/star Christopher Guest (A Few Good Men, The Princess Bride) and co-star Eugene Levy (I Love Trouble, Splash), but most of the actual dialogue is ad-libbed, so as to give the film a more natural approach, which makes the documentary aspects of it work. We don't laugh because the jokes are witty, but because the characters seem real, if a little eccentric, and their responses are genuinely funny without appearing scripted.
The events occur in the small community of Blaine, Missouri, who are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the founding of the town. Guest plays Corky St. Blair, the town's thespian and play director, who is putting on a play to commemorate the event with a history of the town. Using some local talent and a peculiar vision, they are all in hopes of taking this production all the way to Broadway due to a planned visit by a theater critic named Guffman on the play's opening night.
Although I did enjoy Waiting for Guffman, I feel the need to state that this movie isn't for everyone. Much of the humor is as subtle as it comes, so much so that I can see many viewers not fully understanding why any of the on-screen antics are supposed to be funny. This is a film for people who like improvisational and often silly comedy that inspires laughs because the characters are amusing, the situations comical, and the tone absurd. If you're one of the many who enjoyed This is Spinal Tap for the style of the comedy rather than for the music or content, Waiting for Guffman gets a solid recommendation for a comedy with truly unique vision.
©1998 Vince Leo