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September 08, 2000 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-09-08

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ARTS The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 8, 2000-11
stage- an onscreen, ap still turning it up to 11

those cinema speakers up to 11. The
boys of Spinal Tap are back in the-
"This Is Spinal Tap," the mock-
rock movie that iaught us there's
# ire than one way to off a drum-
r, has returned to the screen for a
brief run to whip up publicity for a
new VHS and DVD release.
Rob Reiner's feature-film debut
has become one of Hollywood's
oddest artifacts in the 16 years since
its release. 'Spinal Tap stars
Christopher Guest as guitarist Nigel
Tufnel, Michael McKean is singer
lavid St. Hubbins and Harry Shear-
er as bass player Derek Smalls, the
e of one of Britain's loudest --
tnough fictional - bands.
The movie has developed a cult
following of fans who can carry on
entire conversations by quoting its
memorably absurd yet deadpan dia-
logue, from the amplifier that goes
to II (it's one louder than 10) to the
hand manager who is told, It s not
your job to be as confused as Nioel."
Fans have paid upward of S100 on
0y for a previous, out-of-print
DVD version of This Is Spinal
"There are people who come tip to
us and say, 'This is the greates t
movie ever made, McKean said.
"You've got to say something to
that. You can't let them go on
believing that. But when you get
people blurting out quotes from the
movie, it's tremendously flattering.
eas entered the language to some
The film puzzled some moviego-

ers tho thought it was a documen-
tary about a real group of aging
rockers. Guest tells the story of a
conversation he overheard at a test
screenaing of the mtovie, swhen a
voman turned toa friend and said,
"These guys are really stupid. Why
would they make a movie about
these guys'?"
The make-believe Spinal Tap also
has taken on a strangely authentic
life as a real band. The group cut an
album and toured in the early 1990s.
vhey regroup periodically for con-
certs, and they recently offered a
new song over the Internet. The
threesome even made an appearance
as Spinal Tap on "The Simpsons,"
where Shearer is a regular.
It is now a real band," Guest
said. "Without getting delusional it
a sense, we go out and we play a
two-hour show. It's not as if we play
a son" then do some sketches or
comedy material"
One of the more surreal moments
came when Spinal lap played Lon-
don s Royal Albert Hall .Backstage,
a bov asked for Guest's autograph.
After signing it, he noticed the boy's
father waiting behind him. It was
George Harrison, Guest said.
"I thoufit, this has now come
more than fu ll circle," Guest said.
I"The Beatles played this place, but
we re a fictional band playing there.
It's all dovetailing into this Fellini-
esque situation."
The movie was ranked 29th on the
American Film Institute's recent list
of funniest U.S. films.
Along wvith MGM's reissue of the
movie, New Line C tema has licens-

that iteluded the albums "Intravenus
deMilo" and "The Sun Never
Sweats" and a full history for each
band member so the actors could
respond in real impromptu manner
to questions posed by Marty DiBer-
gi, the "documentary filmmaker"
played by Reiner.
Some gags were worked out
beforehand, but the band mates said
most of the dialogue was improvised
to lend authenticity.
When Reiner reads off a review
for Spinal Tap's "Shark Sandwich"
album, a two-word critique calling it
an "(expletive) Sandwich," Guest
turns to McKean and chuckles.
"When you see my character
laugh at that, that was me really
laughing, because I hadn't heard
that before," Guest said. "That was
my real reaction you see in the
Their matter-of-fact replies accen-
tuate the humor of the outlandish
things the Tapsters say, including
their rundown of the band's doomed
drummers: One died in a "bizarre
gardening accident," one sponta-
neously combusted, and one choked
on vomit (though it was unclear
whose vomit it was, since "you can't
really dust for vomit").
Reiner shot 50 hours of footage,
then assembled a four-hour rough
cut from which the final film was
fashioned. The new DVD of"This Is
Spinal Tap" includes some of those
outtakes, along with music videos,
an interview with "Marty DiBergi"
and audio commentary by the band
members, who gripe about the
hatchet job DiBergi did on them.

The movie's cult following contin-
ues to grow. Manhattan dermatolo-
gist Dr. Michael Whitlow atnd his
wife recently watched the movie for
the first time. Whitlow enjoyed it so
much, he shelled out S120 on eBay
for the out-of-print DVD version.
"I picked it up on a whim and
had no idea what it was about,"
Whitlow said. "It was a such a
scream. Both of us were rolling on
the floor laughing. It works on sort
of a sociological sense, making fun
of that lifestyle. The songs they do
are so funny, but the lyrics really are
similar to real songs you might actu-
ally hear."
The occasional Spinal Tap
reunions extend the gag of a bunch
of middle-aged adolescents still try-
ing to rock. Shearer's wig in recent
appearances included a bald spot to
accentuate the incongruity between
the band members' ages and
The band regroups now and then
mainly for the fun of it, said the
Spinal Tapsters, who have been
friends and colleagues for decades.
Guest and McKean were room-
mates and wrote songs together in
the late 1960s, and McKean co-stars
in Guest's upcoming comedy "Best
in Show."
"It's about reconnecting with
people," McKean said. "Onstage.
we're pretending to be a rock and
roll band, and all you nice people
are pretending to be our audience.
It's kind of like having your best
friends help you at your job. It's
way too much fun to imagine not
doing it again."

Armadillos in their trousers: Derek Smalls, Nigel Tufnet and David St. Hubbins.
ing rights for new Spinal Tap mer- spoofing second-rate rockers on a
chandise, including action figures, TV special Reiner made in the late
trading cards, posters and clothing. 1970s. Reiner, Guest, McKean and
Bloomsbury Books is publishing Shearer decided to expand it into a
"The Official Spinal Tap Compan- feature film, shooting a 20-minute
ion," including photos and a full demo that eventually got them
transcript of the movie. financing for the full movie.
Spinal Tap got its start as a sketch They created a long discography

WSB2K1 only a
fair ball of a game
Waseball games have historically been making sports games look like sports
the best sports games to the non-jock. TV Instead of designing the game from
With a handful of exceptions (NBA Jam a player's point of view, it's set up to
T.E.), other sports games have always look like you're in your home looking it
fallen short for those who do not eat and a colorful box. Of course, you are in
breathe sports in the real world. That your home hookintg at a colorful box, but
makes WSB2KI something of a disap- the trouble is that's not the way you
pointment. structure a game of baseball. At least in
There has been something of an out- NFL2K the shots of players running
cry against the game because it only around looked convincing. Here, the
allows autofielding, and not poorly made players just irri-
*er controller of the Biell- tat' thic viewrer.
ers. To most non-sportos The in-game graphics are
this is not a bad thing. Field- Grade: B- pretty good as long as every-
ing has always been the World Series one is moving and there
most difficult aspect of base- Baseball 2K1 aren't any close-ups. Batting
ball games; with computer For Dreamcast and pitching are the main
controlled viewpoints and sega controllable actions, and
odd viewing angles, it was they're pretty hard to get a
often impossible to tell S ' thY haing of. Tincing on your
where to position your play- sdu mats swing is cruciMl; and place-
e o even be in the vicinity 1 wt ment is difficult (although
S fly ball. It is troubling slightly moving your stick
that Sega Sports didn't bother to give on the easier modes allows you to lock
people the option of slamming their onto the pitch). Pitching is no picnic
heads against the wall. either, and you'll end up with a lot of
The graphics are not especially good. people on base you didn't want there.
There is no opportunity to hide faces So, WSBI2Kl isn't all that. In spite of
under helmets; players are grates- what people have been saying, the aut-
queries. Faces are wrapped on a more or ofielding is not that big a deal. Sega's
less smooth polygon, making for a killer spois app of the season has been
clearly failed attempt at realism. This is Virtua Tennis; only the baseball freaks
made worse by the continuing trend of need to look here.

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