Waiting for Guffman
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2002
Waiting for Guffman is another wonderful mockumentary from actor/director Christopher Guest (Spinal Tap, Best in Show) and cowriter/partner in crime Eugene Levy. The film highlights the big dreams and raw (very raw) talent of the five stars of �Red, White and Blaine,� the celebratory musical commemorating Blaine, Missouri�s 150th anniversary.
The humor in Guffman is of the cut-above variety, founded on relationships and underlined by the characters� hopes. Guest plays Corky St. Clair, a refugee from Broadway who has found a niche for his special abilities as the de facto King of Theater in Blaine. Levy plays the town dentist who is auditioning for the very first time. Parker Posey is the perky, poignant and perhaps pathetic ingenue who works at the Dairy Queen. Catherine O�Hara and Fred Willard prove the maxim that matching sweatsuits betray an unhappy marriage. Bob Balaban plays Lloyd Miller the music director who is grounded in reality, although his suggestion that the cast might spend some of the rehearsal time actually practicing the songs and dances is met with hostility. As an ex-theater major from Hays, Kansas I found the characters 100% real even while laughing at the absurdity of their belief in the possibility that they might take their show to Broadway.
The musical itself would make a great cult movie in the vein of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The events commemorated include the settling of Blaine (in which a wagon train leader manages to convince an entire group of people that they�ve already reached California), the famous UFO sighting and alien encounter, and the founding of the stool-making business which drove Blaine�s economy for generations.
The DVD is worth seeing just for the extra features. The commentary by Guest and Levy is more informative than funny. I got the impression that they were distracted from the commentary by the brilliance of certain scenes in the movie. The extra scenes, however, were hilarious. Waiting for Guffman was shot from a bare-bones script and the actors were encouraged to improvise most of the dialogue. From over 60 hours of footage the best scenes were selected: three of the original scenes that didn�t get into the musical, an alternate ending for O�Hara and Willard, scenes with characters that never made it into the movie, and an explanation for why the dentist�s wife has a Wisconsin accent.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
"Waiting for Guffman" is generally considered the follow-up to the now-legendary rockumentary "This is Spinal Tap." Despite having a different director (this gem is directed by its star, Christopher Guest), iut has the same brand of straight-faced hilarity from one hysterical moment to the next. It's one of the funniest and most underrated films of the 1990s.
The dinky but proud town of Blaine Missouri (the "footstool capitol" of the world) is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a (for them) major celebration of civic pride. Self-exiled theatrical producer Corky St. Claire (Guest) happens to be living in this town, after the failure of his last New York show (he almost burned it down). Corky sees this as an opportunity to get back to Broadway, by creating the historical musical "Red, White and Blaine." In theory, the musical will outline the town's history (complete with a visit by President McKinley and UFOs... on different occasions, of course).
Corky is even more elated when a Broadway scout, Mr. Guffman, is supposed to arrive to gauge "Red White and Blaine's" Broadway potential. This is his ticket out of there... and ditto for the slightly odd citizens who are cast in the play: a deadpan Dairy Queen clerk (Parker Posey), a pair of bickering travel agents (Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard), and a dentist with a lazy eye (the incomparable Eugene Levy). Despite a round of problems, cast losses, and the temporary loss of an irate Corky, the show must go on. But will Mr. Guffman arrive in time to see it?
In small relatively unknown towns, the people often dream of big things. Quite a few of them also have intense civic pride over stuff that nobody else could care less about (crop circles?). The heart of "Waiting For Guffman" is poking fun at the absurdities of middle America, but not a cruel way. You laugh with the "ship of fools," not at them.
Every scene in this movie brims with deadpan hilarity -- all the more striking because of all the ad-libbing that went on. The humor is not the fart-joke variety; it includes everything from Ron's... well, reduction surgery to "We consider ourselves bi-coastal if you consider the Mississippi River one of the coasts." It's pure brilliance from beginning to end -- especially the end, when we get to see the "Red White and Blaine" musical. Guest's comic talent is in full bloom there.
Guest is the soul of this film -- his flamboyant, arty theatrical producer is a big fish trying to get out the tiny pond. Fred Willard (in his usual grinning obnoxious dolt role) and Catherine O'Hara are hysterical as a not-so-happily married couple. And Eugene Levy -- always a treat -- is subtlely funny every time he makes his eye wander.
Underrated and brimming over with kindly satire, "Waiting for Guffman" is rivalled only by "Spinal Tap." A comedy treasure.
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55 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2000
This is what director 'Corky St Claire' has the NERVE to say, congratulating himself on the progress of his self-penned show, 'Red, White and Blaine'. This 'mockumentary' is THE FUNNIEST MOVIE I'VE EVER SEEN! It has it's own 'groove', and once you get onto the Guffman wave-length, you soon become an addict! Christopher Guest delivers his finest performance ever as small town Blaine's resident 'creative type', a tubby, autocratic drama teacher with 'off-off Broadway' experience. The fictional town of Blaine is so 'small town' that the fact that Corky is obviously gay never enters their thoughts; he's 'creative' (and 'from New York'!) The supporting cast, however, are in danger of stealing the movie from under his feet! Parker Posey is pathetically delightful as 'Libby Mae', a Dairy Queen employee who dreams of hitting Broadway so she can "meet Italian guys". Also praisworthy are the characters of "Ron" and "Sheila", a married couple of zero-talents who "Corky" dubbs 'The Lunts of Blaine'. Yet the real prize has to go to Eugene Levy as "Dr Pearl", the local dentist who lands a starring role in 'Red, White and Blaine'. "Dr Pearl" fancies himself as a comedian ("At family functions, I love breaking people up.") and Levy SOMEHOW manages to be hilariously funny playing a character who TRIES to be funny - and ISN'T! Anyone who has ever been involved with local theatre on any level whatsoever will ADORE this movie! Not only does it take a playful stab at Middle America, it ALSO pokes fun at the documentary genre itself (those tense close-ups, those hand-held cameras!) The cleverest, most intelligent comedy in years - 'Waiting for Guffman' has become a cult movie, and quite rightly!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2001
With "Best In Show" having recently departed our cinema's, it is worth catching its predecessor, "Waiting for Guffman" which shares the same director, writers and most of the actors. Where "Best" cruelly satirised the world of dog shows, this movie lampoons small-town USA and its dreams of making it big - in this case to Broadway.
Corky St Clair has been comissioned to write a musical for the 150th Anniversary of the town of Blaine, Missouri. What follows is a hilarious riot-trip through the auditions, rehearsals and the final show, which is certainly a "very theatrical piece". Stand out performers include director Christopher Guest as the aforementioned Corky, a man on a mission to present something to rival his last piece, a musical version of "Backdraft", while making sure he still shops for his (curiously absent) wife's clothes. Then there's the town dentist played by Eugene Levy (of American Pie fame) with a lazy eye and a sense of comic timing that only his wife appreciates. Finally Bob Balaban, as the music director, frustrated by the flamboyant Corky and waiting to take over the show.
The comedy of this piece is the way in which characters deadpan their lines and interviews (in classic mockumentary style) and the humour comes in their timing and delivery - witness the hilarious Dr Pearl as he reveals his "lazy eye" or the town historian talking about how Blaine became the "stool capital of the world". In these days of mind-numbingly awful 'comedy', (Deuce Bigelow, Big Momma's House et al), this is a glimmer of hope that intelligent humour is alive and well in the US and will continue to be brought to our screens.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2001
If ever I get the chance to produce a big Broadway Musical, I want Corky Sinclair to direct it! He's...well...brilliant!
This hilarious mock-u-mentary, starring Christopher Guest as the irrespressible Corky Sinclair is a joy to watch from start to finish, and boasts a great supporting, ensemble cast as well. It features Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard and Parker Posey, in roles that you will recognize from real life.
The story centers around a small town and it's attempt to put together a musical production about the history of the town and it's people. It features all the bad talent that can be rounded up in the town and the trials and tribulations of Corky as he struggles to get his brainchild to the broadway stage.
I must warn you...the first time I watched this movie I hated it, the second time I thought was interesting. The third time I watched it I was quickly becoming a fan, and by the time I saw for the fifth time I was totally won over! So give it more than one viewing, it may take a while to appreciate it's true genius.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
When shopping for a potential mate, make him or her watch this film with you. If he or she doesn't "get it", wave goodbye. This will serve as the perfect barometer of one's sense of humor. I pity those who can't find the humor in this. ** I read that the 80 or so minute running time of this film was culled from DOZENS OF HOURS of footage shot. WHEN CAN WE SEE SOME OUTTAKES, MR. GUEST? Or is "outtakes" even the proper word? The whole film is, in spirit, the quality and in-joke nuttiness that makes outtakes so enjoyable anyway.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 27, 2004
For those of you not familiar with the wildly funny, talented, original and witty Christopher Guest, this film is a magnificent introduction to his talent as a comedian, writer, director and entertainer. It is hard to believe, at some times, that this film was largely improvisational, and the only elements premeditated were the musical score and the general structure of the plot.

Corky St. Claire (Christopher Guest) is a former Hollywood stage director and "artiste" who decides to work his magic on the people of the fictional small town of Blaine, Missouri. The sesquicentennial (150th) anniversary of the town is upon them, and they want to put on a big staged number at the school music theatre. Together with the local Dairy Queen Clerk (Parker Posey), the School Conductor and Musical Director (Michael McKeon), a husband-wife travel agent pair (Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard), the local dentist with Yiddish theatre in his blood (Eugene Levy), and the local bad boy (Matthew Keeslar), Corky must wave his magic wand, pump up the star dust and get the crew pumped up to perform.

This film emulates itself in the style of numerous preceding docudramas about performance theatre. The difference is this film is non-stop, tongue-in-cheek, outrageously and irreverantly hilarious, whereas some of the "real" documentaries wear thin. This was the first in a series of three mockumentaries that Christopher Guest and his groups of regulars presented to us, the unsuspecting audience. The two other films in this trilogy are: "Best of Show" and "A Mighty Wind." This film is delightfully off-the-wall, unapologetically in your face and really, really entertaining. They say that every time you laugh sincerely you burn 5 calories. With a film like "Waiting For Guffman," there is no telling how many hundreds of calories you could be burning! Check it out.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2000
This top- notched cast does so wonderful you don't even know their acting. They get so much into their characters it looks like they were all having so much fun in this mockumentary brought to you by Christopher Guest.
Corky St. Clare (Guest) is trying to get a cast together for his play "Red, White and Blaine". The story of the 150 year old town named Blaine, Missouri. St. Clare gets his cast together a dentist (Eugene Levy) a travel agency couple (Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara) who have only been out of Blaine once because of an "opperation", a white-trash Dairy Queen worker (Parker Posey), and a trashy old man (Lewis Arquette). Well, they are horrible. They are the worst actors you can ever imagine. But Corky thinks they are amazing. Corky calls up a New York reviewer, Mort Guffman, to come to the Missouri town to watch this bumbling cast. Hence, the name "Waiting for Guffman."
The cast, as a said before, is just amazing. The whole movie makes you just smile and feel good. Also stars Bob Balaban, Matt Keeslar, and Brian Doyle-Murray. Also just some pointless trivia here, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer wrote the lyrics and music to this film. And Guest and Eugene Levy wrote it. Oh, and of course Guest directed. GREAT film. This is one you CAN'T miss out on. Especially if you, yourself, are an actor. You'll really appreciate it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2002
First of all, I'm shocked to see so many references to the VHS edition of this movie! This should be in any dvd collectors library. This is one of those rare comedy gems that often gets overlooked by a public feeding on Dumb and Dumber style comedies. Sorry, but there isn't any gross out humour here. Only scene after scene of brilliantly improvized characters and situations that skewers the small town mindset and local theatre. Some of the greatest improv performers are here! Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Catharine O'Hara are some of the more familiar names. They all work their magic in front of the camera. These aren't lines being read from a script. They are moments of hilarity created on the spot as the actors get in the minds of their characters. If you are a fan of Spinal Tap, Best In Show, SCTV or Saturday Night Live, then you should find this quite funny. I have watched it repeatedly and still find subtle nuances that I didn't notice on earlier viewings. The DVD includes deleted scenes (also very funny) and commentary with Guest and Levy. Watch carefully for slices of your own personality in the various cast members. The truth is so funny it hurts. And perhaps that is why some people don't enjoy this movie.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2003
Christopher Guest, I'm convinced, is the King of the Mockumentary. After all, this guy co-wrote Spinal Tap. Waiting for Guffman, however, is my favorite Christopher Guest movie so far. I've watched it over and over, and I never get sick of it.
Guest plays Corky St. Clair, an actor who gave up his life acting in the Big Apple "off-off-off-off-Broadway" and settles in the small but fascinating town of Blaine, Missouri (famous for its nit-wit founder, its production of stools, and its alien sightings). Blaine is preparing for their big sesquicentennial celebration, and Corky is directing the musical production, Red, White, and Blaine, starring the local dentist (co-writer Eugene Levy), the town's singing and dancing travel agents (Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara), a Dairy Queen counter girl (Parker Posey), and a mechanic (Matt Keeslar). Corky's convinced that the production will be absolutely spectacular, so he invites New York talent scouts to come and check it out. And when one, Mr. Mort Guffman, announces that he plans to attend, rehearsals get even more intense for the stars of the Stool Capital of America.
Waiting for Guffman is side-ache hilarious. Christopher Guest is outstanding as Corky, the flamboyant drama queen. He's sure to make you laugh out loud every time he appears on the screen. And while the rest of the cast just adds to the hilarity of it all, Corky steals the show. He alone makes this movie worthy of a place in your DVD collection.
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