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USA 1996
Directed by
Christopher Guest
84 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Waiting For Guffman

Christopher Guest is generally recognized as the creative genius behind the Rob Reiner-directed mockumentary, This is Spinal Tap (1984) in which he also starred. Here he returns to the genre as director, co-writer and star with a lower key spoof of community theatre.

Guest plays Corky St. Clair, a wanna-be Broadway director who has landed in the small town of Blaine, Missouri, which fondly calls itself the “stool capital of the United States”.  With its sesquicentennial coming up, Corky has written and is directing a musical revue "Red, White and Blaine” which he is hoping will get his name up in lights especially since New York theatrical agent, Mort Guffman, will be attending the opening, hence the film’s quipping title.

Playing Corky like a slightly less camp Roger De Bris from Mel Brooks’s The Producers (1967) Guest heads an ensemble cast including co-writer Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey and Bob Balaban in what is a consistently amusing if, one feels, somewhat under-developed, spoof of amateur theatre where enthusiasm is more in evidence than talent.

The humour is wry, absurd at times yet with a strong sense of affection for its characters. One feels that there could have been more of these, or those that there are, explored more (this goes too for the performance of the play which rounds off the film) although this is an acknowledgement of how good is what Guest has given us rather than a criticism as such. 

FYI: Guest and Levy returned to the format with the even more amusing (well, to me) Best in Show in 2000.




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