"You know the old saying that if you don't like the weather, just
wait five minutes and it will change?" says Blaine, Missouri's proud
and ever confident mayor Glenn Welsch (Larry Miller). "I honestly
believe that with hard work we can get it down to 3 to 4 minutes."
Glenn has a lot to be proud of. Blaine, "the stool capital of the
world," will have its sesquicentennial celebration shortly.
Easily one of the best documentary putdowns ever was THIS IS
SPINAL TAP from 1984. I remember the show for Christopher Guest's line
about his amplifier. You see, their rock band was louder, and a priori
better, than any other because their volume knob went to 11 rather than
Now Christopher Guest is back with another documentary parody,
WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, which is just as good as his last. As before, he
has a leading role and cowrote the witty and intelligent script. This
time his cowriter is Eugene Levy. Guest directs the film as well,
which illustrates his talents better than any other part he has in the
picture. His comedic sense of timing combined with the hilarious
script had me laughing so hard I thought I would burst. The film is in
three acts with a delightful epilogue. The only criticism I have of
the picture is that the second act drags some in comparison with the
Guest plays the lead as Corky St. Claire. Corky, who has a
background in off-off-off-Broadway productions, has brought his talents
to backwoods Blaine. Although his last production in Blaine, a staged
version of the movie BACKDRAFT, had some unfortunate technical
difficulties that forced the fire department to be called in, he has
created a special musical for the town's big event. He calls it "Red,
White, and Blaine," and casts a not-so-stellar local ensemble.
After an audition session where people do everything including
reading lines from RAGING BULL, Corky chooses his players. The actors
in his musical are every bit as bad as the actors in the movie are
The first two members of the cast are Ron and Sheila Albertson
(Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara). They are a husband and wife
singing team and Blaine's travel agents. ("Some people find it ironic
that although we run a travel agency, we've never been outside of
Blaine," confesses Ron.) Their mannerisms are so excessively cute that
the whole show could have been built around their characters. Anytime
either of them spoke, I started to giggle. Julie Carnahan's costumes
for them feature iridescent running suits.
The third cast member is Dr. Allan Pearl (co-writer Eugene Levy),
the local dentist who believes his destiny is as a stand-up comic. The
actors in the movie approach the comedy so earnestly that I kept
finding myself beginning to take the fictional documentary as factual.
The more serious they became, the funnier was the humor. And no one
was more sincere than Dr. Pearl.
Dr. Pearl's wife (Linda Kash), who is not in the play, explains
the life of their family. "We don't associate with the creative
types," she tells us. "We have a Scrabble club. We associate with
people with babies." His wife looks upon the good doctor as her sage.
"He has tried to help me change my instincts or at least ignore them,"
she proudly reveals.
Rounding out the play's cast is Dairy Queen waitress Libby Mae
Brown, played with perky style by Parker Posey, auto mechanic Johnny
Savage (Matt Keeslar), and the town's strange old buzzard, Clifford
Wooley (Lewis Arquette).
The ridiculous musical with its tacky sets is reminiscent of the
"Springtime for Hitler" musical in THE PRODUCERS, which remains as one
of the funniest films ever made. The longest and best act of the movie
is the third, which is devoted to the musical.
In a movie this good it is hard to pick out a favorite part, but
for me it has to be the one where Corky shows us his movie memorabilia
collection. His favorite, and mine, are his MY DINNER WITH ANDRE
action figures. Certainly, Andre and Wally are the most improbable
candidates for action figures imaginable.
Although I was sitting in a press screening with just four other
people in the theater, I felt like clapping when the film ended. It is
that good. A more delightful and good humored show I have not seen in
a long time.
Copyright © 1997 Steve Rhodes