A Mighty Wind (2003)
Directed by Christopher Guest
Written by Christopher Guest & Eugene Levy
What there is of a plot tracks the reunion of three late-60s folk groups for public television. Each group represents a folk music archetype the multi-piece, family-style bandwagon of The New Main Street Singers; the lighthearted old-timey Folksmen; and the lovey duo Mitch & Mickey. As usual, Guest and Co. have a perfect pitch for parody, but imperfect perceptions for plot permutations and personifications.
The film is heavy on clever in-jokes and some hilariously spot-on faux-folk, but light on everything else. The groups all apparently had a history together, and they all broke up for various reasons, and there's hints of lingering rivalries within and without the groups, but none of it is made clear beyond extremely vague references or awkward reactions. We get almost zero character development, and as a result care very little for the outcome.
The only characters who merit any feeling are Mitch & Mickey, played by Levy and Catherine O'Hara. They have a realistic yet interesting history, and manage to be funny and poignant. But again, the outcome of their reunion is a foregone conclusion. The beast with two backs.
It's a bit sad to see such a talented group of players reduced to tired and predictable jokes. Am I the only one who doesn't think Fred Willard is funny? Fortunately, the Fred Willard side of the comedy scale is counterbalanced by Jennifer Coolidge, downright rollicking in a few short minutes as a ditzy concert promoter.
Ed Begley, Jr., also turns up, as the programming director for the "Public Broadcasting Network" (PBN). I have no comments on his performance, which was fine, but on an unrelated note, I feel like this Begley dude is stalking me. Everywhere I go lately weddings, Whole Foods, hikes, synagogue he's there. No kidding! It's like an Escher painting; every door and staircase leads to Ed Begley, Jr.
I even had a dream about him recently in which he saves me from a bus crash and invites me to a party at his home. And just when I think I'm free, I discover that a friend of mine is dating his personal assistant! There must be a thousand Grade-C celebrities in the San Fernando Valley, and the only one I consistently bump into is Ed Begley, Jr. Or does he bump into me?
Unfortunately, this reviewer walked away from the film looking over my shoulder (hopefully) for any signs of Ed Begley, Jr., and feeling like I'd just eaten a caramel-flavored rice cake. Marginally satisfying, and almost completely forgettable.
Guest's quality trajectory has taken a sharp nosedive since Waiting for Guffman, and one can only hope that next time around he forgoes the clichéd mockumentary for a fresher approach. Like a marionette show.
Review by Crimedog