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This is Spinal Tap

Starring Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, Tony Hendra
Screenplay improvised by Guest, McKean, Shearer and Reiner
Directed by Rob Reiner
website: www.mgm.com/spinaltap

IN SHORT: I knew I should've asked for a DVD freebie... [Rated R]

Most studios wait for a proper double digit year to release a Special Edition of a classic (meaning: old) film. Somehow, it is appropriate that, sixteen years after it crashed like the proverbial led zeppelin, MGM sees fit to reissue This Is Spinal Tap. Under the direction of "Marty DiBergi," Tap set the name and the standards for the entire Rocumentary genre and, thanks to a typographical error in a syndicated review, embarrassed the heck out of hundred of newspaper editors when the proper abbreviation TIST came out sideways. You figure it out. I run a clean column.

If you're a fan of Heavy Metal, you already know Tap for the classic that it was. For you, it returns to the big screens a mere couple of dozen hours before it hits the DVD racks, complete with an extra hour of material, four music videos, three band endorsement commercials, two original theatrical trailers but no partridge in a pear tree.

It's interesting that the band has agreed to participate in this Special Edition and DVD. They're on the record as calling DiBergi's film of their 1982 American Tour a "hatchet job." Though the band has not talked to, and DiBergi has not worked to enhance the re-make of the new edition of the film, they have agreed to remix the soundtrack in full 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound and provide commentary tracks and band history.

Strangely enough, not mentioned in the commentary are the two ultra-rare and highly prized ('cuz they're not on CD) releases, A Spinal Tap into Bacharach and Live At Missoula, both concept records. The first, released in that Flower People-Spinal Tap transition period and sold only on late night teevee, featured Tap renditions of "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head," "What the World Needs Now," "Alfie," "Walk On By and "Close To You". (Sure, Nazareth got al the credits for "Love Hurts," but Tap did the Metal Ballad first!). Live At Missoula was performed with the band's instruments playing at frequencies that only the standing room only crowd of cows could hear. We talked with the Tap about those projects back when this film was first released but NBC owns the rights to those tapes, so I can't quote the band. We just report it for the record. Honest to God truth. Really.

I am so desperately in need of a sound effect rimshot here that I'll wait while you whack the side of your monitors . . . Thank you.

Seriously, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Rob Reiner created, in this fictitious documentary of a nonexistent band, a gem whose value lay unappreciated until the rest of Metal caught up to the clichés that had been in place for a great while. Thank MTV for a lot of it. I sit through This Is Spinal Tap and laugh my butt off every single time.

Now that we're years away from their struggling beginnings, a good hunk of the fun of Tap is seeing star names -- Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Anjelica Huston, Ed Begley Jr. and Fred Willard -- in bit parts.

With no changes from the original, we're marking this down in the reissue category, which means no Dollar Sign Rating, as with regular movies. That being said, upon its release back in '84, I saw this flick numerous times. Now, in 2000, I've done the same. That would mean the $8 (out of $8) rating. But that's just me.

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