The hilarious, utterly brilliant spoof This Is Spinal Tap, directed by Rob Reiner, is arguably the greatest film about rock & roll ever made, and that includes everything from dramas to comedies. Spinal Tap, a washed-up British heavy metal band, is followed by a documentary film crew on a disastrous American tour. Classic scenes from this 1984 satire involve spontaneously combusting drummers, a Stonehenge stage prop mistake, and a strategically placed, foil-wrapped, phallic vegetable. This Is Spinal Tap stars three talented comic actors: Michael McKean as vocalist/guitarist David St. Hubbins, Christopher Guest as lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel, and Harry Shearer as bassist Derek Smalls. Reiner plays filmmaker Marty DiBergi. Guest, McKean, Reiner, and Shearer are officially credited as the screenwriters, but all the actors improvised a great deal. Notables in supporting roles or cameos include June Chadwick, Tony Hendra, Bruno Kirby, Fran Drescher, Billy Crystal, Paul Shaffer, Anjelica Huston, Fred Willard, Patrick Macnee, Dana Carvey, Howard Hesseman, Ed Begley, Jr., famed record producer Danny Kortchmar, and session drummer Russ Kunkel. The actual soundtrack music, written and performed by the actors, is terrific too. This Is Spinal Tap fires zingers at obvious targets like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Van Halen, and others. For as sharp and accurate as the movie is, it seems the creators really like the bands they skewer. The Criterion Collection's 1998 DVD is spectacular, but it wasn't out long before becoming an out-of-print collector's item. In 1999, legal entanglements apparently caused the videocassette and DVD to be withdrawn from the marketplace. MGM finally reissued them in 2000. Both DVDs are jam-packed with deleted scenes, music videos, commercials, commercial parodies, and trailers. They contain most of the same extras, but there are significant differences in content, including the menu animation and audio-track commentaries. Therefore, owners of The Criterion Collection edition still have a desirable collectible.
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AllMusic Review by Bret Adams