WAITING FOR GUFFMAN
(director/writer: Christopher Guest; screenwriter: Eugene Levy; cinematographer: Roberto Schaefer; editor: Andy Blumenthal; music: Michael McKean/Harry Shearer/Christopher Guest; cast: Christopher Guest (Corky St. Clair), Eugene Levy (Dr. Allan Pearl), Catherine O’Hara (Sheila Albertson), Fred Willard (Ron Albertson), Parker Posey (Libby Mae Brown), Bob Balaban (Lloyd Miller, music teacher), Larry Miller (Glenn Welsch, Mayor), Matt Keeslar (Johnny Savage), Lewis Arquette (Clifford Wooley), Linda Kash ( Mrs. Allan Pearl), David Cross (UFO expert), Paul Dooley (UFO Abductee); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Karen Murphy; Sony Pictures Classics; 1996)
“Raucous, outrageously funny, and filled with many zany scenes.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Christopher Guest (“Almost Heroes”/For Your Consideration”/”The Big Picture”) directs with panache a mockumentary about the hick citizens of the fictional small town of Blaine, Mo., staging a goofy musical revue in their high school that traces their town’s history to celebrate its 150th anniversary. Blaine proudly lays claims to being the “foot stool capital of the United States” and it was visited by a UFO even before the Roswell incident. Its history started when wagonmaster Blaine Fabin mistakenly thought he reached California with his Philadelphia pioneers, but even though they were mistaken the wagon party agreed to settle here. The amateur troupe will be directed by Corky St. Clair (Christopher Guest), the prissy, preening egotistical transplanted New Yorker who is the only showbiz professional involved and lets everyone know it. Corky is the leader of Blaine’s community theater group and is creator of a stage musical version of Backdraft that led to the accidental destruction of the theater. Lloyd Miller (Bob Balaban), the timid high school music teacher, will be in charge of the musical numbers. The patriotic themed show is entitled “Red, White, and Blaine.” The cast, who are all chosen after an audition, includes a group of dedicated amateur thesps such as married stay at home travel agents and enthusiastic amateur show regulars Ron and Sheila Albertson (Fred Willard and Catherine O’Hara)– Corky calls them “the Lunts of Blaine;” a first time performer in Allan Pearl (Eugene Levy), a singing dentist who tells us he wasn’t the class clown in high school but did sit next to him; Libby Mae Brown (Parker Posey), a Dairy Queen counter worker who loves her job and does a slutty version of Doris Day’s “Teacher’s Pet;” and Clifford Wooley (Lewis Arquette), an old time resident and retired taxidermist who makes gun racks from deer hooves and acts as narrator. The cast gets their hopes raised high when they learn that Corky, who thinks he’s creating a work of genius and this is his ticket to the big time, has persuaded a major theatrical producer in New York to send his star stage director named Guffman to look at the show and see if he can bring it to Broadway.
It’s cowritten by Guest and Eugene Levy. It’s much like 1984’s “This Is Spinal Tap,” also a mock documentary in which Guest starred in and co-wrote about a fictional heavy metal band. It’s raucous, outrageously funny, and filled with many zany scenes such as a lisp speaking Corky doing a gay caricature but leaving the viewer not quite sure and in another scene exuberantly showing off such memorabilia as My Dinner With Andre action figures, and there’s also Corky’s showstopping hip-swiveling dance moves.
REVIEWED ON 9/25/2007 GRADE: B+