A Mighty Wind

Well, Christopher Guest and his wacky friends are back with another mockumentary. A Mighty Wind is to folk music what Best in Show was to dog shows and Waiting for Guffman was to community theater. Again, Guest and many of the same actors work off an outline of a script (by Guest and Eugene Levy) and improvise hilarious dialogue and situations, and the invisible, omnipresent documentarian captures it all. The genesis of events in this film is the death of a beloved folk music producer. His germ-phobic son Jonathan Steinbloom (Bob Balaban, The Tuxedo, The Majestic) decides to hold a concert in tribute to his father, bringing together his father's old acts. The highlight of the concert is the reunion of Mitch (Levy, Bringing Down the House, Like Mike) and Mickey (Catherine O'Hara, Orange County, Speaking of Sex), a duo who underwent a bad breakup.

Mitch is now a bit addled and reluctant to participate, so Jonathan needs to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince him. Another big act reuniting is The Folksmen, consisting of Alan Barrows (Guest, Best in Show, Small Soldiers), Jerry Palter (Michael McKean, Auto Focus, The Guru), and Mark Shubb (Harry Shearer, Haiku Tunnel, Dick). Yes, these are the same three guys that make up Spinal Tap, another fictional band from a mockumentary. The last group is a reconstituted version of the Main Street Singers, led by Terry (John Michael Higgins, The Man Who Wasn't There, Best in Show) and Laurie Bohner (Collateral Damage, Best in Show), who also follow their own color-based religion.

A Mighty Wind is less biting in its satire than Guest's other films. The comedy focuses more on the quirks of these people rather than making fun of them. The tone towards folk music is surprisingly reverential. Some of the songs are funny, but they are all well written, catchy, and fit right into the genre and time period. The songs were written by the principal cast and performed by them as well, which goes to show just how talented this group of people is. In addition, there are welcome appearances by the likes of Fred Willard (The Wedding Planner, How High?) playing much the same person he did in Best in Show, and Jennifer Coolidge (Zoolander, American Pie 2) who delivers possibly the funniest line in the film.

There is a huge cast, almost too big. With so many colorful personalities and a normal running time, people will not be able to get much screen time. Levy and Balaban do stand out, as a spaced-out ex-hippie and extremely nervous producer. Other good actors like Parker Posey (Personal Velocity, The Anniversary Party) and Ed Begley, Jr. (Auto Focus, Get Over It) have potentially hilarious roles, but are on screen for such a small amount of time. With Guest's continuing success comes a drawback. Guest faces the danger making too much of a good thing. The time between the release dates of these films is becoming shorter. If Guest does too many of these films, people will probably tire of them, regardless of how funny they are (and they are funny).

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 27 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sex-related humor.

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