Movie Review: A Mighty Wind (2003)

Title: A Mighty Wind
Release Date: April 16, 2003
Director: Christopher Guest
Production Company: Castle Rock Entertainment

There was abuse in my family, but it was mostly musical in nature.

In the third of Christopher Guest’s mockumentary comedies, the subject of the spoof is the 60s Folk Music Revival. At the time this movie came out, I was volunteering at folk festivals and a folk club and found it very true to life.  The death of a famed folk producer launches a reunion concert at New York’s Town Hall featuring three groups who gained fame in the 1960s:

  • The New Main Street Singers – an upbeat and hokey “neuftet” featuring Parker Posey and Jane Lynch.
  • The Folksmen – the trio of Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer (the same lineup as heavy metal band Spinal Tap)
  • Mitch & Mickey  – played by Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara as a duo who were romantic partners in the 60s but then had a severe falling out affecting Mitch’s mental health.

Bob Balaban also has a great turn as Jonathan Steinbloom, the neurotic son of the late producer who micromanages the tribute show.  A lot of Guest regulars support the cast including John Michael Higgins, Fred Willard, Jennifer Coolidge, Don Lake, and Ed Begley, Jr. If there’s a downside to this movie, it’s that the cast is so big that some of the characters don’t get enough screen time (I want more Parker Posey, dammit!).

The secret sauce of this movie is that the music is actually good (I even got the soundtrack back in the day).  What’s funny is the situations such as The New Main Street Singers cheezy cover of “Never Did No Wanderin'” or The Folksmen over-explaining the Spanish Civil War. Or that the Civil Rights anthem ends with an apparent fellatio entendre.  This movie also has a lot of heart compared to other mockumentaries, especially the moment when everyone is wondering if Mickey and Mitch will kiss is played for warmth instead of laughs.  This remains only second to Best in Show as my favorite Christopher Guest Comedy.

To do then now would be retro. To do then then was very now-tro, if you will.

Rating: ****

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