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By Ron Wells | February 24, 1997

If nothing else, Christopher Guest deserves our awe and respect just for
being married to Jamie Lee Curtis. Luckily, he is also a FUNNY man. Now if
you were to take the same general concept of This Is Spinal Tap (a mock
documentary with some specific plot points mixed with improvision by a group
of very funny people), and apply this framework to something else, would it
work? Hell yes. Guffman, as a matter of fact, is funnier.
Directed by Guest (The Big Picture), who happened to be the lead guitar
player in Spinal Tap, Guffman is about the 150th anniversary celebration of
fictional Blaine, Missouri. A documentary crew is there to film the
production of an original musical on the history of Blaine, written and
directed by local theater maven, Corky St. Clair (Guest). A follow-up to his
acclaimed stage adaptation of “Backdraft,” the musical includes such major
events as the founding of Blaine by settlers who had thought they’d reached
California, the birth of the stool capital of the world, and the alien
landing / pot luck dinner of 1946.
A group of, uh, spirited thespians are on hand to help Corky reach for
his dreams of Broadway. They include the town dentist, Eugene Levy, the
local travel agents who have never left town, Catherine O’Hara and Fred
Willard, and the Dairy Queen counter girl, Parker Posey.
Speaking of queens, despite trailing a four-alarm fire, no one in town can
tell Corky is gay. They all think Mr. St. Clair is one of those “creative
types.” Despite the stereotype, Guest is never offensive, never out to mock
anyone. It’s Corky’s movie. I saw this movie in a room full of San
Francisco movie critics, and I haven’t heard that much laughter since, well,
the piano duet in Island of Dr. Moreau (which you must admit, was pretty funny.)

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