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Overall Rating

Awesome: 32.54%
Worth A Look40.48%
Average: 20.63%
Pretty Bad: 2.38%
Total Crap: 3.97%

11 reviews, 60 user ratings

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Mighty Wind, A
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by Erik Childress

"Iím Calling You Out Warner Bros. Make This a Hit!"
4 stars

Where is the audience? Thatís the question I pose in regards to the improv-themed gems that Christopher Guest and his ever-expanding repetoiry company keep digging up for us. Surely they are out there. "Waiting for Guffman" might have started as an arthouse cult hit which led to "Best in Show" finding its way out to the suburbs. Word-of-mouth is always the best form of advertising, but maybe Warner Bros. hasnít figured that out yet. "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days", "Sweet Home Alabama" and "Bringing Down the House" will collectively take to the bank over $350 million. Thatís what audiences are spending their money on while true, original laughfests like Guffman and Show barely pull $22 million combined. The wind must start blowing the other way and you can start right here.

Community theater and televised dog humiliation were just warmups to a form of entertainment that is clearly dear to the hearts of the filmmakers. Depending on your sensibilities or when you grew up, the genre known as folk music either recalls simpler times or excruciating corniness. Guest and Co. clearly see the merits of both points of view and may even win over some new fans with the music in-between the laughter. If O Brother Where Art Thou? can reinvigorate the roots of bluegrass and win Grammys for its soundtrack, thereís no reason why A Mighty Wind canít follow in its footsteps.

In the film, one of the pioneer producers of folk music has passed away. His son (Bob Balaban) intends to mount a PBS reunion show of some of his greatest acts, even if they arenít together anymore. There are the Folksman, a good-natured trio played by Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. (And if that trifecta of names donít jump out at you, itís a sub-reunion that you canít appreciate.) The New Main Street Singers are a bakerís dozen and a half of picturesque-uniformed souls that is now more of a revamped tribute band to itself. Then there are Mitch & Mickey (Eugene Levy & Catherine OíHara) whose famous song was always interrupted with a kiss now find their marriage interrupted altogether and Mitch on the tailend of an institution stay.

Itís impossible to describe just how funny A Mighty Wind is without giving away the jokes. They arenít really jokes at all, but behavior and mannerisms and reactions that donít seem funny to the characters but are howlers to the audience. These are super-skilled performers at work here and since all of them are working from just an outline, the onus is on them and its here where it should be an easy sell to anyone within earshot.

Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer Ė They may be the modern pioneers of improvisational filmmaking when they donned the skins of the heavy metal band known as Spinal Tap in 1984. Every red-blooded American male should know this and if you donít, catching up is in serious order. Guest has been the captain of Guffman, Show and Wind, McKean has been one of the most reliable comic character actors in movies and television and Shearer has contributed God knows how many voices to The Simpsons. Thatís reason enough to give any movie your attention right there.

Eugene Levy Ė This SCTV veteran shares the loose screenwriting credit with Guest on the holy improv trilogy. Probably known mainly to youngsters as Jimís dad in the American Pie series, they should get to know him here. His Mitch character with the monosyllabic delivery who seems to be looking for an extra ounce of breath with every sentence may annoy some, but Iíve never seen him play anyone like this. And thatís a testament to a comic treasure like Levy.

Catherine OíHara Ė The mom from Beetlejuice and Home Alone to some. One of the funniest women in America as far as Iím concerned. Through all the laughs, OíHara manages to find an underlying sadness to a character who seriously wants to leave the past where it is. This may just be her best performance.

Fred Willard Ė His sketch appearances on Jay Leno donít even constitute how funny this man is. I can go all the way back to TVís D.C. Follies puppet show, but it was his dog show announcer (Best in Show) that had many in the entertainment circle crying Oscar. Appearing now as a washed-up catch-phrase comedian, my colleagues and I are still using those catch-phrases and laughing our heads off. At the screening I saw at South by Southwest, Willardís first appearance in the film received a roaring cheer.

Michael Hitchcock Ė The name might not be as recognizable, but his performance as the high-strung yuppie dog owner is reason as any to recommend Best in Show. His role here may not be as big as the theater manager who is clearly restraining himself from a breakdown, but his interplay with Bob Balaban culminates in one of the biggest laughs of the picture.

Jennifer Coolidge Ė OK, she was Stiflerís mom in American Pie. In Best in Show she was the golddigginí wife of a ninety-plus-year-old who told us they actually had a lot in common, such as both enjoying soup. Iíd be surprised if she has five total minutes of screen time in A Mighty Wind, but she gets the biggest laugh of the film with a punchline thatís probably the lamest, simplest joke of the entire film. That is talent.

And so is Bob Balaban, John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, Paul Dooley, Ed Begley Jr. and everyone who has a line in A Mighty Wind. And a song. If it didnít get across before, the music is sensational. Viewed in satiric terms, they will keep a smile on your face and lyrically, everyoneís feet will be tapping especially during the climactic jam session. Itís impossible to believe Guestís intention is to just mock this movement in music history, because the only way to make this on target is to love it a little. And the only way to make it this hilarious and ultimately so surprisingly touching is to take up Orson Wellesí mantra to give the cast another mention.

Iím calling you out Warner Bros. to make this a hit. Put those marketing muscles to good use. Other than Harry Potter, Two Weeks Notice and (gasp) Kangaroo Jack, you havenít had a film gross over $40 million since last summer. And thatís 18 films (not counting those three) leading back to Scooby-Doo. You have a winner here. If youíre going to play the platform game, you are going to lose. Release this film in all its humorous glory, promote the hell out of it and the audience will come. You can take THAT to the bank.

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originally posted: 04/17/03 03:00:44
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2003 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/11/13 Kymberly Pray Know they've done a few, this group should do *every* movie together. Great chemistry. 5 stars
12/27/11 Jim McLennan "Hilarious"? "Hysterical"? Er... No. 2 stars
2/28/07 Clyde One of the best locations I've come across lately!!! Definately a permanent bookmark! Pleas 1 stars
2/08/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
1/24/06 Indrid Cold Like Spinal Tap, except for folk music, and with about 1/3 as many jokes. 3 stars
12/10/05 MAttIFUL Is that really supposed to be funny? I dont get it. I feel embarassed for all in this movie 1 stars
11/08/05 blue dolphin a sad commentary of folk music 4 stars
8/13/05 Ben Quinn Not as funny as Best in Show, but still better than Waiting for Guffman 4 stars
12/17/04 Ken Cenerelli Funny but not as good as Best In Show. 4 stars
7/25/04 DM Some funny parts, but it's so whatevery 3 stars
4/26/04 Lord Jiggy A surprise. Funny, even touching, with whackball humor out of nowhere. 4 stars
4/19/04 Ionicera "these were my friends....and they were made out of gin cartons" 4 stars
3/22/04 Goofy Maxwell More heart than previous Guest gigs, just not mighty funny. 4 stars
3/13/04 James Kustes second only to Spinal Tap 5 stars
3/09/04 gerry great really loved it esprcially The Kiss song 4 stars
3/06/04 Snickerdoodle I LOVED THIS MOVIE!! THE MUSIC WAS SO GREAT! 5 stars
2/06/04 john not worse, not better, just different than guest's other stuff. still great! 5 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody Ey, what happened?!?!?! A total pisser!!! 4 stars
1/15/04 Betty White Brilliant, superb, hysterically funny mockumentary; O'Hara is outstanding. 5 stars
1/05/04 astra astra omg it was the worst movie i have ever seen in my life 1 stars
11/22/03 ROY L. CAIN,JR. A satirical spin on the folk music craze. EAT AT OES ! 4 stars
11/09/03 b awesome 5 stars
10/25/03 Al Baston Great fot first two thirds lost it at the end but always fun to watch these crazies. 4 stars
10/21/03 Jorchel Smithenstein This is the best movie ever made. 5 stars
10/06/03 BDB Two words: Wha' Happened??? ... BAHAHAHA! 5 stars
9/13/03 Ant A brilliantly acted film, full of laugh-out-loud moments. A pure joy to watch. 5 stars
9/01/03 Marcia Lartz Peculiarly watchable, though I'd never have guessed so from the premise. 4 stars
8/24/03 francis moves on from the 'best of show' concept - very funny if you are the right mood 4 stars
7/28/03 Elendil It's like `Waiting for Guffman', only this time, you've seen it before. 3 stars
7/14/03 skye just plain not funny. and i'm a big fan. could've been great 3 stars
7/02/03 Jacob Simmering Great movie, esp if it was improved 5 stars
6/05/03 LaFontis The best film this summer. Don't waste your time and money with mainsteam movies. 5 stars
6/01/03 Jack Bourbon Not very funny, oddly. Still, Levy was great, and the blonde from "BiS" was smokin' here. 4 stars
5/29/03 Ellwood Erb This movie is definity worth watching.... Very Funny stuff 4 stars
5/23/03 Karl Mattson Guest's best to date. Hillarity tempered with tenderness. 5 stars
5/20/03 malcolm not as good as 'best...' or 'waiting...' maybe i'm just too used to the formula. 3 stars
5/20/03 the snakes yes, a mighty wind. a mighty broken wind if you catch my drift 1 stars
5/15/03 A film observer This film is about the hilarity and beauty of the moment - not about political messages. 5 stars
5/14/03 Allen Overall, pretty good but some hillarious moments 4 stars
5/13/03 scottyrobotty tries to be funny and fails a lot, a lot of other times it doesn't even try. very let down 2 stars
5/12/03 Warren Norwood A Mighty Miss, this movie misses most of the folk scene as it really was. Falls way short. 2 stars
5/12/03 skye NOT the best of the 3, or even close. 3 stars
5/11/03 Vicious Awsome is too strong, but Eugene Levy was too good to call anything less than great 5 stars
5/07/03 ajay very funny, I laughed out loud *several* times 5 stars
5/06/03 H.E. Brilliant. For those who did not rate it "awesome", I can only say: "Wha' happened?" :) 5 stars
5/01/03 T. Oliver Worst of the three 3 stars
5/01/03 Andrew Carden Hilariously Funny Indie Comedy With Fantastic Performances By Posey, O'Hara, and Levy. 5 stars
4/24/03 Desmond Barely tries to be funny, but it's surprisingly touching and dramatic 5 stars
4/23/03 Daddy Phil Pine nut...pastacio nut...macadamia nut 5 stars
4/22/03 jamie one of the more ecletic, yet entertaining films I have see this year. great! 5 stars
4/22/03 Johnny little something Fan Tas Tic. 5 stars
4/20/03 Weezer Christopher Guest is a comic genius. 5 stars
4/20/03 George Jung The funniest movie I've seen since...Best In Show. Keep it up, Guest. 5 stars
4/19/03 Dana Carvey must DIE!!! It is very funny, but more than that it is sometimes moving. And the music rocks (kinda). 5 stars
4/14/03 bluegirl funny!! 5 stars
4/12/03 steve christiansen an outstanding and hilarious film! the best of the three by far. 5 stars
4/09/03 reggie wagstaff BRILLIANT!!! 5 stars
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  16-Apr-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 23-Sep-2003



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