The greatest compliment I can give this film is that Eddie Van Halen didn’t find it funny, since he thought that it really happened. No, that’s not an insult to his intelligence. It’s an illustration of this film’s strength: for as stupid as the proceedings are, they seem like they would happen. If there was a real band called Spinal Tap, you would believe that this film actually occurred.
Spinal Tap are as self-serious and pretentious as an 80s hair metal band can get. They were originally a Mod rock group before jumping on-board the psychedelia bandwagon until they became the hair metal group in the film. Their success is behind them, but they just continue to play, believing that they’re bigger than they actually are.
Most of the film is ad-libbed. Most of the jokes were created by the actors. Reiner wrote the situations, but the rest of the film was the actors. They all work together to create an image of a rock group that’s smaller than they believe. There’s a reason the line “It goes up to eleven.” has become immortal.
More to the point, the film also showed the people just what was wrong with rock music of the 80s (the music of the 80s has not aged well at all, especially the synthpop and hair metal crap). The comment about Eddie Van Halen not “getting it” was because he didn’t think the film was funny, because most of the events in the film happened to him.
Spinal Tap became more popular later in the 80s rather than when it was released. Coincidentally, that also corresponded to when Alternative Rock was on the rise. I’m not point fingers, but I can’t help but thank “This is Spinal Tap” for that. The film will live on as long as stupid rock acts similar to them continue to exist. So it will never die.
Directed by Rob Reiner
Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, ran Drescher, Bruno Kirby