on January 4, 1999
Just about anybody reading this review has probably seen "This is Spinal Tap" as many times as the band has changed drummers. What you really want to know is whether the DVD extras are worth the price. YES. Theatrical trailers about cheese rolling festivals, David St. Hubbins with strait hair in an early short that eventually evolved into the film, Rob Reiner begging people to show the movie in their theaters, deleted scenes that develop and explain the cold sores the band keeps ending up with, and the bloody demise of Janine (well, we can dream can't we?) all this and more can be yours for the low low price of...whatever. Anyway, if you're a Tap fan and you've got a DVD player, get this disc. If you're a Tap fan and you've got this disc, get a DVD player. If you're a Tap fan without the disc or a DVD player, talk your rich buddy with all the cool home theater equipment into buying this disc, then watch it at his place and eat all the potato chips in the house. If you're not a Tap fan, you can get a copy of "The Sound of Music" around here somewhere, I'm pretty sure. I've always thought of Derrick Smalls as kind of a short hairy version of Julie Andrews anyway.
Superb (m/r)ockumentary of the semi-fictitious band "Spinal Tap", made up of Michael McKean ("Lenny", soul mate of Squigy, on the TV series "Laverne & Shirley"), Christopher Guest (actor/director of "Waiting for Guffman"), Harry Shearer (performs voices of 22 different characters on "The Simpsons"), and a random selection of ever-changing drummers. The movie is a tongue-in-cheek parody of washed-up hard rock bands that still think they are God's gift to the universe. The inspired idiocy borders on genius at times, lending weight to Michael's observation that there is a "fine line between stupid and clever".
The DVD is simply amazing. For starters, everything is in character. From the style of the main menu title screen, to the menu voice-overs by the band, and extending through all of the extra material included on the DVD, the personas of the band (and the fictitious director as well) are maintained with perfect consistency.
What makes this all the more amazing is the shear quantity of extras on the disk. For starters, there is about an hour of "deleted" scenes provided. In addition, there are numerous music videos, TV commercials (fake I presume???), and trailers. And as if that weren't enough, there is also a commentary track throughout the entire film with the band members, completely in character, being as hilariously idiotic as they are in the film. The Spinal Tap commentary track is easily the most entertaining commentary in my extensive DVD library.
The DVD medium is put to splendid use as well. Menu transitions are computer animations inspired by some of the film's funniest moments. Each menu plays a different "Tap" song, giving you access to a decent percentage of the sound track. And, just as importantly, the animations are not overdone; the menus are still easy to use, and the transitions only take a few seconds.
Overall, this DVD is a great value, and provides a vast amount of material not available in the VHS version. If you are a Tap fan, or would like to be, you NEED this DVD!
Artistic Merit: A
Overall Entertainment Value: A
Transfer Quality: A
Use of Medium: A
on July 15, 2011
Comedies in general are a strange lot; they rarely if ever retain their comedic value over time as they age poorly being mostly a sendup or a reflection of the times they were made. There are countless comedies that literally made me roll on the floor with laughter but after subsequent viewings years later barely raised a chuckle out of me. Thankfully there are a few truly classic films from the genre that still retain or even exceed their comedic value over time but these are few and far between. "This Is Spinal Tap" though especially for those who are musicians or who follow the 80s rock scene closely never fails to amuse and this is mostly due to the excellent performances of Guest, McKean, Shearer and even director Reiner who is an excellent comedic actor in his own right. It was also nice to see Fran Drescher putting in a great performance before she achieved worldwide fame as "The Nanny".
Too bad this blu ray release doesn't live up to the quality of its content; the picture quality can be described as only slightly better than standard dvd in too many frames and I have many standard DVDs that look better. There are two discs but the content on the second disc barely reaches 15 minutes in length suggesting they could have just put everything on one disc or they could have added more and better Special Feature documentaries on the second disc. Sadly we get neither here. The sound quality on DTS HD MA 5.1 surround sound is good except for the very irritating fact that when the band plays, the sound level goes up so high but it goes back down again when the dialogue resumes which is very bothersome when you find you have to quickly adjust the volume whenever this transition is made.
Many fans already have this film in various guises i.e. VHS, DVD, LD etc and so MGM/Fox have to ask themselves what would make fans want to double dip? As this release is only a slight if I am being generous improvement to the DVD release I am left extremely disappointed and I now wish I had waited for a worthier blu ray release before double dipping. How about a digibook with much better restored picture quality and a better adjusted sound volume levels for both the music and dialogue parts? This is not the first Studio Canal release that is subpar and I guess I should have known better instead of taking a chance on this release given how poorly other Studio Canal blu ray releases have been in the past e.g. Kurosawa's "Ran".
This is a great comedy that is still very funny today and will probably still be so for years to come but if you already have this on dvd it is not worth the double dip. I recommend you wait for a much better blu ray release unless you don't mind triple-dipping. Don't make the mistake I did.
on October 27, 1999
Not only one of the funniest films ever, but the best "mockumentary" about rock'n roll ever made. Every rock band in the world, whether famous or not, will have at one time or another, quoted a line out of "Tap" & got a giggle during rehearsals. The DVD is another story. A dream for all Spinal Tap freaks. Not just commentary by the band AND the director AND hillarious trailers AND the Hell Hole video AND the famous 20 minute "demo" of the movie BUT ALSO over an hour of unbelievable outtakes!!!!! Never has there been a DVD of such quantity & quality. ALL DVD's should be put together like this. Mrs Presley!?
on March 6, 2003
It amazes me that to this day, nearly 20 years later, there are still some people who thought this was real. That Spinal Tap actually existed. It's hilarious. This film is truly one of a kind. It perfectly lampoons the life, success, and downfall of a rock group. The film is shot as a documentary, or as this kind of film is, a 'mockumentary'. It's being done by director Marty DiBergi(Rob Reiner, who also directed and co-wrote the film), who is best known for commercials. He chronicles the life of legendary british band, Spinal Tap. The members of this band include David St. Hubbins(the always great Michael McKean), who is the vocalist of the group. Nigel Tufnel(the brilliant Christopher Guest), is the lead guitarist. Big mustached Derek Smalls(the great Harry Shearer), is the bass player. They started out in the mid 1960's as a mellower hippy/pop type band with songs like "Listen(To What The Flower People Say)". The documentary chronicles that to where they are today. They turned into a long haired, heavy metal group with songs like "Big Bottom", "Sex Farm", and others. The entire film shows their struggles to maintain their career as it appears to be falling down the tubes. Producers won't release their album, concerts are cancelled, no one comes to autograph signings. The inner turmoil within the band is showcased as well. They suffered from we could call, 'the Yoko syndrome', where St. Hubbins' girlfriend, Janine Pettibone(June Chadwick), comes into the picture and causes friction within the group. Throughout the film and interviews, there are concert clips showing the band in glorious action. The film was written by our three stars, and they must have spent time in this world because many musicians have stated the authenticity of it all. Not only did they write it and get it down pat, but these three guys also wrote every song and really performed them. They might not of been a real group, but they could of been. Keep your eyes peeled open for appearances by Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, and Fran Drescher at a party. Fred Willard and Ed Begley Jr., who have become Chris Guest regulars in his future films, appear here as well. Willard, as he will in the future films, steals every single frame he is in. Ed Begley, Jr. plays the band's original guitarist who died in an awful gardening accident. This continues as a running gag(that always works)thru the rest of the film concerning their drummers. The movie is funny. It's not the kind of comedy that a lot of people will get. Read the one star reviews below for that. It's a type of comedy that is very dry, but also very funny. If you are not in on it, you will not get it or respect it for what it is and is trying to do. Same goes for Guest's future films(Waiting For Guffman and Best In Show). The DVD comes with a great load of cool extras. The three guys, in character, give audio commentary. It's priceless. There is a new interview with Rob Reiner. There is a slew of other special features here. Over an hour of never before seen footage; Theatrical trailers; 6 TV commercials; an appearance on "The Joe Franklin Show"; 4 music videos for "Listen(To What The Flower People Say)", "Hell Hole", "Big Bottom", and one I can't remember the name of. It's a hysterical film that hits on every mark. Definitley the funniest movie about music ever made, and the all time best 'mockumentary'. And once again, just to make sure, this was not a real band. Go ahead and see this. It's one of a kind.
on January 13, 2001
This is the movie that turned me on to Christopher Guest's unique style of subtle comedy (though This is Spinal Tap is hardly subtle). After watching Best of Show and Waiting for Guffman, it's clear that this is disproportionately Guest's movie, despite the (obvious and extremely beneficial) shared writing credits between him, McKean, Shearer, and Reiner.
I recommend this movie to pretty much everyone who has an interest in music (especially the music of the 60's, 70's, and 80's) and a healthy sense of humor. No one is immune to this satire, with pretty clear (and not so clear) jabs at the Beatles, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and countless other groups. Add to that a "fake" music group that has about as much musical talent as some of the "real" groups from the era that they're satirizing, and you've got a masterpiece of a movie.
This DVD takes it another step and adds in over an hour of cut footage that adds a lot to the story, and adds a lot more laughs. It would have been nice to have the option to plug the outtakes back into the movie in their original places (like in the X-Men DVD), but merely having them there is a big plus in itself. Other extras, like commentary from the characters, music videos for some of their songs, multiple trailers and TV advertisement spots, and other more minor extras make this a must have DVD for anyone who enjoys this type of movie.
on December 28, 2000
Well, Spinal Tap just won't give up. They're approaching 60 and still rocking. This new edition of the comedy masterpiece This is Spinal Tap is loaded with goodies, especially for die hard fans. The intro alone is worth the price of the DVD, with all three members (in character) commenting on the title sequence of the DVD. Then some commentary as you navigate the menu (especially funny is the subtitles bit). Then there are the extras! Man...some of the extras aren't the funniest, so it's obvious as to why they were removed from the final cut, but some are hilarious! My favorite out-take was a bit featuring Nigel (Christopher Guest) explaining to Marty Dibergi (Rob Reiner) the similarities between tradtional Indonesian music and true American Western music. This scene is as funny as anything in the movie. A nice touch is the audio commentary featuring all three in character as they analyze the truthfulness of DiBergi's representation and recall old times. Funny as hell. All in all, if you're a Tap fan, this will make you forget about the "Hellhole" you live in! A great continuation of the Tap legacy.
on June 5, 2000
The gods of comedy rock, Spinal Tap, will be re-releasing theirhilariously brilliant mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap by releasing itin theaters again and presenting anew video and DVD version of the infamous film. MGM Home Entertainment notes that the 1984 rock comedy, about a fictitious over the hill heavy metal band on their comeback tour, will re-released on VHS and DVD after being out of print for several years. The new special edition home video versions of the film will boast new audio commentary from the cast, an hour's worth of deleted scenes, beefed up sound and video, and more. Some of the goodies turned up on a This Is Spinal Tap CD-ROM that surfaced in the early '90s and later on the first DVD version, but this new release will be different in many ways. Most notably, the new version will feature entirely new audio commentary. The previous DVD featured the cast members commenting out of character, this time actors Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest will offer commentary in character (as David St. Hubbins, Derek Smalls, and Nigel Tufnel, respectively).
on February 11, 1999
I have been a fan of "This is Spinal Tap" since it's release back in the early 80's.So I assume that it must have been an act of god that my VHS version of this movie had not only been eaten by a very hungry VCR, but also dicontinued. Because if these examples of divine intervention never happened, I would have never searched for Spinal Tap on DVD and would have never found The Criterion Colection of This is Spinal Tap. This version is for the person who just can't get enough of "Tap". There is over 4 hours of material on this DVD. Besides the actual movie, you can watch it with the commentary of Rob Reiner, or with the guys from Spinal Tap explaining every scene and wacky idea that came about in making this film. You also get over 2 hours of cut scenes and subplots(which you learn were cut not because of bad ideas, but because of time restraints). Scenes that will have you laughing just as much as the movie itself. That's not all, you get a 20 minute "demo" reel that was used to try to sell the idea to all of the different movie studios. It is really interesting to see some of the great "classic" gags in their early stages. Different movie and theatrical trailers are included(the cheese trailer one of my favorites)and just when you think that there can't be any more room on a DVD, you get behind the scenes material,music videos and a goofy commercial for a mock Spinal Tap greatest hits album(done in the classic K-tel style that some of us grew up with). Bottom line, any tap fan who has a DVD player should already own this. It is well worth the price. You get so much for the money when it comes to The Criterion Collection of Spinal Tap.
on September 13, 2000
Of course, the movie "This Is Spinal Tap" is unbelievably hilarious. So if you've never seen "Spinal Tap" before, by all means, you must check this movie out! But what really makes this DVD edition shine is the sheer volume and quality of the extra footage...
The extra footage on most DVD re-issues is usually pretty much just throwaway stuff; however, on this DVD, there is at least a full hour of outtakes that are almost all as funny as the parts that did end up in the film. The outtake scene involving the temporary replacement guitarist they got when Nigel left the band is worth the price of the DVD all by itself. It's almost as if they included an alternate "Spinal Tap" movie with different scenes and different jokes. The extra scenes show how the final cut of the movie removed all groupie/drug use scenes, all the more reason to prize this annotated collection. The music videos, press conferences, commercials, and other rarities are awesome. Simply put, this is an extremely comprehensive collection, I'm so pleased that all of this stuff has seent eh light of day.