A Mighty Wind offers heart and a whole lotta’ folk music

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

A Mighty Wind, out on video and DVD Tues., Sept. 23, is not the laugh-riot that This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman or Best in Show were. The movie doesn’t offer the quotable lines and endlessly re-singable songs of its mockumentary predecessors.

It does, however, have one thing those three other films didn’t have. It has a whole lot of folk singing.

The Christopher Guest brand mockumentaries are practically a genre unto themselves now, offering zany laughs all backed by the idea that we’re watching a documentary about real people who have odd passions.

Naturally, we’re not watching real people. We’re watching incredibly talented and amusing actors improvising their way through a half-script which is all story and no dialogue until they turn their creative minds loose on it.

A Mighty Wind tells the story of a bunch of folk musicians who get together again to celebrate a legendary folk producer who just died. The movie basically spends its entire length setting up the concert, then showing us the concert. There’s not much more to it.

But, as with all movies starring this merry band of improvisers, there are enough interesting things going on on the sidelines to entertain you. Eugene Levy’s performance is priceless, as are Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Guest himself as a squabbling trio.

The problem with A Mighty Wind is that it thinks its being funny in the last 30 minutes of the movie at the concert, when it’s really being sort of touching.

Unlike the songs in Waiting for Guffman or Spinal Tap, these songs aren’t all that bad. They’re actually pretty good for folk songs and this unbalances the movie a bit.

However, the movie offers enough laughs and heart to recommend a rental.

3.5 stars