This Is Spinal Tap
Since its release in 1984, Rob Reiner's "mockumentary" about a failed rock group's comeback tour has become one of the most oft-referenced and oft-imitated comedies in history. Its release on DVD from MGM is a great reminder of why. Loaded with extras, including a hilarious commentary from stars Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer as their screen incarnations, this is easily one of the best DVDs available. The picture is crystal clear, presented in a beautiful 1.85:1 widescreen transfer. The only drawback is the subtitles. Originally missing from the DVD, MGM hastily added them in, and they have a rushed, public access look that is rather distracting. Thankfully, they only show up occasionally. The sound is in Dolby 5.1, allowing the group's crunching guitar anthems ample space to roam. Extras abound here, and all are worth a look. As previously mentioned, the commentary track by Spinal Tap is a riot, peppered with in-jokes and odd asides, perfectly dovetailing with the film itself. There is also over an hour's worth of deleted scenes. While it's easy to see why most of them were excised, they still provide a laugh here and there and are great fun for the true Spinal Tap enthusiast. Director Rob Reiner shows up as Marty DeBergi, his character from the film, in a documentary about what he has been doing since the film. Also featured are a boatload of commercials and trailers, as well as Spinal Tap's appearance on the Joe Franklin Show, the long-running TV talk show. While missing some of the bonuses of the Criterion edition, this is still a fitting package for a comedy classic.