Movie of the Day: Waiting for Guffman
Why Watch It Now?
Christopher Guest’s mockumentary format has more or less gone out of fashion at the movies, but at the very least it’s worth another look. After pioneering his signature improvisational comedic style with director Rob Reiner in This Is Spinal Tap, Guest returned to the genre with this outing, his third feature, about a community theater troupe with an eccentric director (played by Guest) whose members become convinced a prominent theater critic will attend their show. Most importantly, Waiting for Guffman marks the debut of Guest’s ensemble, which included Fred Willard and Parker Posey (two actors who always seem misused in other directors’ works) and the divine pairing of Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara. Perhaps more than in the companion mockumentaries, there’s a human quality in this film that still shines through, an awareness that these characters walk a fine line between buffoonery and tragedy. It’s a tough comedic tone to pull off, but when it works, it’s hard to surpass. Television creators certainly took notice, as the style trickled down into shows like The Office, Parks and Recreation and Modern Family.
Bonus Trivia: Guest made a quasi-sequel to this film for Netflix, 2016’s Mascots, which featured his character Corky St. Clair.
Don’t Take Our Word For It
On The Other Hand…