A Mighty Wind (2003) / Comedy-Musical
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sex related humor
Running Time: 91 min.
Cast: Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Bob Balaban
Director: Christopher Guest
Screenplay: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy
Review published May 13, 2003
I'll admit, the films by Christopher Guest are an acquired taste, and quite possibly are only made for a relatively small demographic out there who finds the droll mock-umentary humor to be uniquely inspired genius. I'll also admit, after witnessing the main trio in the classic This is Spinal Tap at work, then the same team gave us more good stuff with Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, I was beginning to think that they could do no wrong. After sitting quietly through most of A Mighty Wind I no longer feel that way.
I initially had been inclined to believe that it's because I've never been a fan of folk music, or very familiar with much of the folk world, and in a send up of the culture of which I am not a part of, a good deal of the humor would naturally go over my head. However, upon reflection I realized that I am also not a fan of heavy metal, small-town plays, or dog shows, but I still found those films to be quite funny. Maybe, just maybe, I was bored by A Mighty Wind because, for all its talent and energy, it just isn't all that funny.
The main premise revolves around the passing of a folk legend, Irving Steinbloom, whose work in the music and cultivation of other talent inspired many into the folk tradition, including lucrative careers of their own. Irving's son Jonathan plans a tribute to his father's legacy, bringing together three of the acts which Irving helped produce, but getting this talent back together proves easier said than done.
A Mighty Wind ends well, coming to life in the final performances and the wrap-up, where there's some decent music and some pretty good chuckles. However, up until then much of the humor is sporadically interesting, and does little except produce an occasional grunt of amusement amid long stretches of monotony. Clocking in at about 90 minutes, Wind feels much longer, and even though the last 25 minutes or so will leave you smiling, it's not really worth the initial hour of flaccid set-up to finally get there.
I would only recommend A Mighty Wind to two main groups of people: avid fans of folk music and those who think Guest and the rest of the performers are unequivocal geniuses. For everyone else, approach cautiously, as this film doesn't deliver as much as their previous endeavors, feeling more like a collection of deleted scenes than an actual fully realized film. A Mighty Wind is more like a barely perceptible breeze on a hot summer day, not substantial enough to feel good, and barely strong enough to notice.
©2003 Vince Leo