Plot: What’s it about?
For those out there who are fans of Christopher Guest’s other projects, namely Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman, wait no more. The third installment in the “mockumentary” trilogy is here at last! It’s highly likely that everyone out there will have their personal favorite of the three (mine happens to be Best in Show), though each stands out in their own way. Whereas Guffman was an expose’ on the world of theater (small time, that is) and Show poked fun at the underworld of people’s love for their dogs; A Mighty Wind is more of a musical dedicated to the folk bands of the 50’s and 60’s. Granted, every angle is played up and it’s likely that to catch all the jokes, repeated viewings are a must. Still, there’s something about this type of movie that just makes one say “why did no one else think of this before?” Well, some of the same cast was in the 80’s masterpiece This is Spinal Tap, but aside from that, the genre is just scratched the surface. Guest obviously knows what the audience wants as most of the cast from the two previous films is back for more and they don’t disappoint.
Irving Steinbloom (Stuart Luce) has just passed away. A legend of the folk music industry, he was the one who pioneered the movement of the 50’s and 60’s. Being the great man that he was, his son (Bob Balaban) has decided to get three of the groups that were made popular by his father, and does a reunion show to be broadcast on public television. The most successful of these groups was “Mitch and Mickey”, who closely resemble Sonny and Cher. Aside from them, The Folksmen (Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean) and The New Main Street Singers (Nine in all). The process of the movie is getting all of the members of their respective bands back in New York as they only have two weeks to get ready to perform the show at Town Hall. However, Mitch and Mickey haven’t spoken in years and The New Main Street Singers are now commercial and somewhat despised by the other members in the show. Still, this doesn’t stop them from all showing up and each offering their own two cents worth of advice as to how to do what to who and when.
Let’s face it, if you’re a fan of the other two movies by Christopher Guest, there’s nothing that will stop you from checking out A Mighty Wind. The cast is great, all in rare form (and again, mostly without a script). Though there’s no one unquestioned star of the group, Balaban and Levy are the two we see the most of. Balaban is perfect as the anal-retentive son of the deceased father who worries about everything from the length of the flowers to the questionable 3-D effects of the stage. The music is so corny that we have to ask ourselves if there was indeed a point in time when we as a country really listened and bought this stuff. Evidently the answer is yes (though personally, this was long before my day). I suppose the only complaint that I would have with this installment is the fact that the cast is a bit too big as our attention often gets shifted around from one person to another much too quickly. Levy’s performance is so great that I’d love to see more of him. The film is short too, clocking in at just 92 minutes. Still, I laughed out loud more than once and it’s something that any fan of this sort of movie will love. Highly recommended.
Video: How does it look?
It’s been a while since I last saw A Mighty Wind. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen it since it first came out on DVD and that was way back in 2003. I have no idea where my old copy of the DVD is now, but it really doesn’t matter since I’ve now got a Blu-ray in hand. One thing I remembered about these films (Best in Show and Waiting for Guffman have to be mentioned) is that they were all shot on 16mm and thereby gave a somewhat granular image. I was expecting more of the same when I put the Blu-ray into the player, but instead I was shocked at how lovely the picture was. Yes, there are still some elements of grain, but not nearly as many as I remembered. The entire image seems cleaned up, bits of dirt and debris are non-existent and though not the epitome of the newer films, I’m very impressed with this (evidently) new transfer. Colors seem to have a bit more pop, flesh tones are more even and it’s as if everything that was once wrong with the movie has now been fixed. The 1.85:1 AVC HD image has certainly benefitted from Warner’s TLC.
Audio: How does it sound?
The previous Dolby Digital 5.1 track has been replaced by a DTS HD Master Audio mix that sounds a tad bit better. By and large, most documentaries that we watch leave sound pretty much out of the picture (just what is spoken is what we hear), but this isn’t the case here. Naturally, the movie centering around music, we do hear plenty of great and catchy songs and during the ending show, the surrounds kick in and make for a pretty enjoyable experience. The main dialogue is clean and clear, though a bit low at times. I found that I had to turn my receiver up a couple of times to make out what was being said. Still, I was impressed overall and what better way to hear folk music than in DTS HD Audio?
Supplements: What are the extras?
It appears as if all of the supplements from the 2003 DVD have made the leap to Blu-ray which is good, though I’m sure no one would complain if some new features were added. Nevertheless, here’s what to expect.
- Audio Commentary – Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy, who also wrote and starred in the film, combine for a pretty interesting and entertaining track. Similar to the tracks on Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, fans will get a kick out of these two guys and their rather “unique” sense of humor.
- Deleted Scenes – There are quite a few to choose from available with or without commentary.
- Television Appearances – These are “in character” appearances by the folks in the movie (pun fully intended) available with commentary.
- Live TV Broadcast of the Concert – The television special (in the movie) is shown in its entirety here. So you can watch the actual broadcast as if you were actually watching it on television there!
- Extras – Two easter eggs from the DVD are now a selectable option, but I won’t spoil the surprise.
- Theatrical Trailer – Sadly the only extra in HD.
The Bottom Line
Fans of Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show will no doubt already have this in their collection. The video is a marked improvement over the previous DVD and all of the supplements have been ported over to this Blu-ray offering. There’s really no reason to see some of the best improv comics in their prime.