Movie Article

This Is Spinal Tap

This is Spinal Tap | 'SPINAL' CHORDS McKean, Shearer, and Guest get amped up
Image credit: This Is Spinal Tap: Everett Collection
'SPINAL' CHORDS McKean, Shearer, and Guest get amped up

Why ''This Is Spinal Tap'' is one of the top 10 cult movies

Years ago, we sat next to a middle-aged couple at a screening of Rob Reiner's faux documentary. As the has-been band of the title launched into ''Big Bottom'' (''The looser the waistband, the deeper the quicksand/Or so I have read''), wife turned to hubby in disgust. ''This is dork humor,'' she said. ''I'm leaving.'' She left. Look, lady, the movie may revel in the juvenile (herpes-sore sight gags, resoundingly stoopid lyrics, steady evidence that the band treads water ''in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry''), but stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer play fools as only wise men can. As antic as the Marx Brothers, more endearingly boneheaded than Homer Simpson, the men of Tap offer the ne plus ultra of the ultraridiculous -- and a mother lode of quotable silliness, too. If ''Spinal Tap'' constitutes dork humor, then America harbors a not-so-secret society of dweebs. We like our parodies turned up to eleven.
SIGNATURE LINE ''It's such a fine line between stupid...and clever.''
HISTORIC MOMENT To return to that ''up to eleven'' business: The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' now recognizes the phrase.

Originally posted May 15, 2003

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