Mockumentary fans, rejoice! The team that brought you This Is Spinal Tap, Best In Show and A Mighty Wind also thought up my personal favorite – Waiting For Guffman. Christopher Guest does the directing, Guest and Eugene Levy do the writing (even though it’s mostly ad-lib), and they both star, along with Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard and Parker Posey in this complete mockery of small-time stage performing wrapped around a collective and incredible dry wit.
The small town of Blaine, Missouri is planning a sesqui-centennial celebration (that’s 150 years) and the town celebrity, Corky St. Clair (Guest), has been asked to assemble a team of local talent and put on a stage play about their town and its founding for the event. After open auditions, the small cast is chosen and consists of Libby Mae Brown (Posey), Dr. Allan Pearl (Levy), Sheila and Ron Albertson (O’Hara and Willard), Johnny Savage (Matt Keesler) and the narrator, Clifford Wooley (Lewis Arquette). Practices begin and the team comes together well, at least in their own minds. When they receive a letter from Mort Guffman, some New York producer’s leg-work man, the group decides – for some reason – that this must mean they have a shot at Broadway.
I cannot comment sufficiently on the genius of this cast. Willard is perfect. Levy is absolutely gut-splitting. Posey is a natural. Guest is great. And the absolute diamond, O’Hara, is unbelievable every second on screen. The minor characters, save a very few, are equally brilliant, from Brian Doyle Murray to Bob Balaban.
This is such a true-to-life mockumentaries that you literally feel so badly for these people. They are hoping for Broadway and they are complete jokes. I mean completejokes. You must see the audition scenes. Some horrid singing, acting and O’Hara subtlely saying her partner’s lines. It’s like the worst of American Idol, only they are being told they’re good by the key leaders of Blaine, rather than being told they’re terrible by Simon Cowell.
If you have ever been involved in any kind of a church play, school play, town play or musical, you simply must – MUST – see this film. The rest of you will get a kick out of it, too. It’s my favorite of the mockumentary selections. In fact, it’s in my top 5 movies of all time.