Review of This is Spinal Tap

Documentary Add comments
Year: 1984 - Runtime: 82 - Director: Rob Reiner - Writer(s): Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner
Country: USa - Language: English - Parental Guide: PG - Color: Color

This is Spinal TapRating: ★★★★★★★★★☆


This is Spinal Tap is just as realistic of a portrayal as many legitimate documentaries, and yet this mockumentary is just about as fake as it gets. Confused? The premise is simple: create a fake documentary about a fake band and cover real topics such as band break-ups, band mismanagement, and stereos that go up to 11. This is Spinal Tap is only as real as you make it. Helmed by the tantalizingly weird Rob Reiner, the film documents a fake reality in a world where the fake is the real. It’s also intensely enthralling, and has something to say about 80’s music culture without getting all pretentious on us.

Reason to Watch

As a music fan, this is Spinal Tap is NOT to be missed. It’s humor is original, defining, and the film encapsulates a certain era better than any legitimate documentary ever could. Maybe.


The stories being told aren’t directly real, but there is a sort of odd realness and crudeness to the nature of the film. Over the jokes and comedy effects, you have a film that uses the design of human nature to say something about itself without getting loaded up with documentarian tripe.

Most Memorable Quote(s)
  • Mick Shrimpton: As long as there’s, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the rock and roll. 
  • Nigel Tufnel: It’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black. 
  • Derek Smalls: We’re very lucky in the band in that we have two visionaries, David and Nigel, they’re like poets, like Shelley and Byron. They’re two distinct types of visionaries, it’s like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water. 
What You Need to Get Through This Movie

A stereo playing the movie’s volume unnecessarily loud is a necessity. Big hair. If you don’t have big hair, a mullet wig will do. Knowledge that you are watching the best thing ever is also standard, though that goes without saying.


The actors are legitimate musicians, and performed on the Spinal Tap album

Spinal Tap named their fictitious album “The Black Album,” and made the cover entirely black. 6 years later came Metallica’s self-titled black album, whether as an homage or unrelated.

Much of the film was improv’d

Educational Content
  • Drummers and and will just randomly explode. Always have a back-up drummer on speed dial
  • There have been stereos made that dial to 11, as a direct homage to the film.
  • This movie is not a real documentary, so don’t look dumb not laughing like Ossy Osbourne when first viewing it, thinking it is a real documentary
Justification for Rating

After contemplating the film, you come to realize that it isn’t necessarily true in a linear sense, and it isn’t exactly littered in high production values, but it is too smart for its own good and wraps up a time and a place with such specific elegance. It also remains purely entertaining for those in the know- the cult film status, I suppose.


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