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This Is Spinal Tap

This Is Spinal Tap

4.6 14

Cast: Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer


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Largely improvised by director Rob Reiner and his cast, This Is Spinal Tap looks and sounds like a "real" documentary, with Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest as David St. Hubbins, Derek Smalls, and Nigel Tufnel, the key members of a going-nowhere British heavy metal band called Spinal Tap. The "group" started as an informal skiffle band,


Largely improvised by director Rob Reiner and his cast, This Is Spinal Tap looks and sounds like a "real" documentary, with Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest as David St. Hubbins, Derek Smalls, and Nigel Tufnel, the key members of a going-nowhere British heavy metal band called Spinal Tap. The "group" started as an informal skiffle band, eventually maturing into an R&B act called the Thamesmen (their hit was "Gimme Some Money"). After going through a psychedelic period with "Listen to the Flower People," the band mutated into Spinal Tap, a hard rock outfit responsible for such albums as "Intravenous DeMilo," "The Sun Never Sweats," and "Bent for the Rent." This Is Spinal Tap finds them in the midst of their first American tour in years as they support their new LP Smell the Glove, with filmmaker Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiner), who specializes in TV commercials, on hand to document the occasion. Just about anything that can go wrong does: shows get canceled, stage props go wrong, wireless guitar pickups start broadcasting air-traffic reports, no one shows up for in-store appearances, David's girlfriend tries to take over the band, they wind up billed second to a puppet show at an amusement park, and the group teeters on the verge of breakup. After the film's initial release, McKean, Guest, and Shearer did a short club tour as Spinal Tap; the "band" reunited in 1992 for a new album, Break Like the Wind, followed by a full-fledged tour and TV special, The Return of Spinal Tap.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kryssa Schemmerling
One of the biggest comedy cult hits of the 1980s, this truly inspired mock rockumentary about a fictitious British metal band named Spinal Tap is more than a deadpan sendup of dinosaur rock groups like Deep Purple, Status Quo, and Led Zeppelin. It takes hilarious potshots at every aspect of the music industry -- from vacuous contemporary songwriting to lame-o record promotions to pyrotechnic-obsessed concert performances. Almost entirely improvised, it features hilarious performances by Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest as over-the-hill rockers whose hair and egos are a lot bigger than their talent. Director Rob Reiner is the earnest filmmaker who documents the group's disastrous American tour -- which at one point finds them reduced to opening for a puppet show at an amusement park. The "documentary" weaves together performances of Spinal Tap songs like "Smell the Glove" and "Lick My Love Pump," archival footage of the group in an earlier psychedelic incarnation, and interviews in which the dim-witted band members discuss their music and careers. Parodying with understated perfection the ridiculous self-seriousness of many real rockumentaries, Spinal Tap is a comic marvel. MGM's widescreen, special edition DVD includes over an hour of extra footage, audio commentary by the members of the band, rarely seen TV appearances and interviews, Spinal Tap music videos, television commercials and much, much more.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
If there has ever been a funnier and truer film about rock music than This Is Spinal Tap, no one has had the courage to show it in public. Rob Reiner's hilarious mockumentary chronicle of the misadventures of a group of intellectually challenged British rock musicians touring the U.S. manages to laugh at and with its protagonists at the same time. While the unending cluelessness of Spinal Tap's core members, David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), is a marvel to behold (especially the scene in which Nigel is baffled by the miniature pumpernickel on the deli tray), the leading characters also exude a goofy charm. As we watch their career slowly collapse around them, it's difficult not to feel a certain sympathy while laughing at their travails (it helps that they've seen enough of this coming to be more annoyed than despairing about their careers). Guest, McKean, and Shearer, who improvised most of the film's material, all did time in rock bands in the 1960s and '70s, and it seems as if they didn't forget a thing; no one who has ever been in a band, no matter how lowly, will fail to recognize the arguments at rehearsal, the on-stage screwups, the frustration of getting lost en route to a show, the thrill of hearing yourself on the radio, the chore of playing for an audience that doesn't care, and the excitement of a show that goes over. While This Is Spinal Tap takes deadly (and wildly funny) aim at the absurdities of the music business and the pompous excesses of the heavy metal scene, it's also made by people who understand the kick of a good rock show (for both performer and audience), and much of the humor comes from the fact that this seemingly absurd tale is not far at all from the truth.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Mgm (Video & Dvd)
Region Code:
[Wide Screen, Color]
[Dolby Digital]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Over 1 hour of deleted scenes and outtakes; Audio commentary by the members of Spinal Tap; Catching up with Marty DiBergi featurette; Flower People press conference; 4 classic Spinal Tap music videos; Spinal Tap appearance on the Joe Franklin show; Spinal Tap sells cheese and a variety of other exciting products; Bonus DVD: "Stonehenge" performance at the 2007 Live Earth Concert; National Geographic Stonehenge interview Nigel Tufnel

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rob Reiner Marty DiBergi
Michael McKean David St. Hubbins
Christopher Guest Nigel Tufnel
Harry Shearer Derek Smalls
Tony Hendra Ian Faith
R.J. Parnell Mick Shrimpton
David Kaff Ian Faith,Viv Savage
Bruno Kirby Tommy Pischedda
June Chadwick Jeanine Pettibone
Fran Drescher Bobbi Flekman
Joyce Hyser Belinda
Vicki Blue Cindy
Paul Benedict Tucker "Smithy" Brown
Patrick MacNee Sir Denis Eton-Hogg
Billy Crystal Morty the Mime
Fred Willard Lt. Hookstratten
Ed Begley John "Stumpy" Pepys
Howard Hesseman Terry Ladd
Gloria E. Gifford Airport Security Official
Russ Kunkel Eric "Stumpy Joe" Childs
Paul Shaffer Artie Fufkin
Daniel Rodgers Little Druid
Jean Cromie Ethereal Fan
Patrick Maher New York M.C.
Danny Kortchmar Ronnie Pudding
Julie Payne Mime Waitress
Dana Carvey Mime Waitress
Sandy Helberg Angelo DiMentibello
Robin Menken Angelo's Associate
Zane Buzby Rolling Stone Reporter
J.J. Barry Rack Jobber
George McDaniel Southern Rock Promoter
Lara Cody Fame Groupy
Andrew J. Lederer Student Promoter
Archie Hahn Room Service Guy
Charles Levin Disc & Dat Manager
Wonderful Smith Janitor
Anjelica Huston Polly Deutsch
Fred Asparagus Joe "Mama" Besser
Robert Bauer Moke
Brinke Stevens Girlfriend (uncredited)

Technical Credits
Rob Reiner Director,Songwriter,Screenwriter
Kent Beyda Editor
Robert Eber Sound/Sound Designer
Christopher Guest Songwriter,Screenwriter
Renee Johnston Costumes/Costume Designer
Bryan Jones Production Designer
Robert Leighton Editor
Michael McKean Songwriter,Screenwriter
Karen Murphy Producer
Kim Secrist Editor
Harry Shearer Songwriter,Screenwriter
Peter Smokler Cinematographer


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This Is Spinal Tap 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
SleepDreamWrite 5 months ago
Heard of this but never saw it till now. This was interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So good when origianally released many viewers thought this was a metal band they had never heard of. The jokes aren't jokey, but they are funny and if you have ever watched a "behind the music" style biography, you will find this even funnier.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For those under the false impression that Christopher Guest is some recent phenomenon with his comic "documentaries" like "Best in Show" and "A Mighty Wind", you've mightily missed the grand-daddy of them all, "This is Spinal Tap". The "documentary", or if you will rockumentary, from over twenty years ago, gets to probably the funniest subject of them all, Rock N' Roll. With its jabs at the pretensiousness and pompacity of Rock N' Roll, and the over-the-top theatrics of arena rock in the 1970's, "This is Spinal Tap" has been so influential that it has inspired the likes of Beavis and Butthead, Bill and Ted, Tenacious D, and others--not to mention that its been endlessly quoted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rob Reiner really brings out the laughter with this "rockumentary". The unintellectual conversations the lead singer has through out the movie captures your humorous side.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first time I saw this film (1980s) I hated it because it was just a little too convincing (I don't care for heavy metal music). I just didn't get it then. Now, after seeing ''Waiting for Guffman'' and ''Best in Show'' (over and over and over!), I finally get it! ''This is Spinal Tap'' is a hilarious inside view of the life of a fading heavy metal group. The music is exquisite -- wonderfully crafted. I have a hard time convincing my 12-year-old son not to sing ''Big Bottom'' in public. Thank you, Christopher Guest, et al, for a great bit of film making.
Eleven More than 1 year ago
Eleven! One louder than 10!
Guest More than 1 year ago
You will die laughing watching this movie. I am being completely serious about that--I died watching it. OK, not really, but you know what I mean. Two words: Little Stonehenge.
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