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A Mighty Wind

A Mighty Wind

Christopher Guest offers a gust of mischievous comedy in A Mighty Wind which reunites him with an ensemble that he's appeared with in pseudo-documentaries like Best In Show and Waiting For Guffman.

Improvisation is key to his estimable group of players who have fun parodying folk music, similar to high stakes dog shows and community theater.  Guest, who shaved the middle part of his head for his role, co-wrote the script with Eugene Levy (Bringing Down the House) about a one-night reunion at New York City's Town Hall.  There's a quirky flavor to this jocularity similar to what "Hee Haw" drew from country music.

The loss of folk icon Irving Steinbloom has tone-deaf son Jonathan (Bob Balaban) locating his father's beloved musicians for a memorial concert.  Included among the semi-popular folk recording artists are the Folksmen, acted by Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer.  Their Alan Barrows, Jerry Palter, and Mark Shubb haven't performed together in close to three decades.  And their "big" hit was "Old Joe's Place."

Levy is Mitch, part of a vocal duo with Mickey (Catherine O'Hara), who hit the skids with divorce and his subsequent spiral into a sanitarium where he did a lot of origami.  And the Main Street Singers have transformed into the New Main Street Singers with lead musician Terry Bohner (John Michael Higgins) and his wife, Laurie (Jane Lynch), who wasn't ashamed about her past in the adult film industry.  Their compromised folk sound is enlightened by the way they find God from color coding.  Parker Posey's Sissy Knox becomes a folksy Florida pastel-clad member of the group.

Nearly two decades ago, Guest played with Shearer and McKean in Rob Reiner's seminal rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, and his experience after that in the Folksmen adds up to a guilty pleasure captured in a flamboyant, entertaining documentary spirit.  A showcase of spontaneous expression throughout, A Mighty Wind really benefits the most from the symbiotic team of Levy and O'Hara, especially in the witty and touching, "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow."

A Mighty Wind

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