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A Mighty Wind
2003 - PG-13 - 91 minutes Mins.
Director: Christopher Guest
Producer: Karen Murphy
Written By: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy
Starring: Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Eugene Levy, Catherine O\'Hara, Michael McKean
Review by: David Trier
   
Christopher Guest can make the same movie three times, sure, but can he make it four? I don't think so.

A Mighty Wind, like Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, is a mockumentary following a large group of zany characters on their journey toward and through a big performance. This time, the subject is folk music and the son of a famous deceased folk producer is putting together a reunion show of the greatest folk acts as a tribute. The bands include The Folksmen (Guest favorites Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and himself), The Main Street Singers (Guest favorites Jane Lynch, John Michael Higgins, Parker Posey and others), and Mitch & Mickey (Guest favorites Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara). Each band has their own issues to work through and some minor obstacles to overcome, etc., etc.

Besides those already mentioned, performers like Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Michael Hitchcock, Jennifer Coolidge, and Fred Willard come together with great charm and energy to propel a familiar story. On occasion, the results are laugh-out-loud funny, but compared with the wonderful Best in Show, adorable Waiting for Guffman, and inimitable Spinal Tap, A Mighty Wind falls flat on a number of levels. Above all, and this may have unfortunately been part of the point to the film, folk music isn't nearly as interesting as dog training, community theater or rock and roll. I didn't feel there was anything to learn beyond the stereotypes I'd already seen.

This brings to the forefront the film's other great disappointment - the characters. Most of the actors are playing the same roles they always play, just with different haircuts. Fred Willard is still the guy with the funny unfunny jokes, Bob Balaban is the nerdy uncomfortable type, John Michael Higgins is an effeminate control freak and so on. While Guest's roles in his previous films have been quite memorable and even touching, here he plays a rather minor character without much personality. Eugene Levy, who also co-wrote the script, is likeable as a mentally unhitched folk singer, but the character is so cartoonish, it fails to fully deliver on the emotional aspect of his story. The true star of the show is Harry Shearer, whose familiar voice (The Simpsons) and funny-looking beard make up a fun character.

Above all, despite its occasional laughs and occasional moments of sadness, A Mighty Wind is a little boring. The pace is slow and the stakes are low. Nobody anticipates this folk show will revive anyone's career and the only tension surrounds whether or not the married folk singer and brain-fried folk singer will kiss. Subplots are introduced but not fully developed, some with great comic effect like Michael Hitchcock's dorky theater manager knocking heads with Bob Balaban's obsessive nitpicking, and others being simply stupid like Jane Lynch and John Michael Higgins' color-based religious cult.

The whole experience falls somewhere between mildly amusing and just plain old tiring. Perhaps the next Guest mockumentary will involve a golf tournament.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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