Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'A Mighty Wind' Is More like a Gentle Breeze

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'A Mighty Wind' Is More like a Gentle Breeze

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, Times-Union movie writer

A Mighty Wind is Christopher Guest's newest mock documentary, an affectionate satire about three mostly awful folk groups from the '60s who reunite to play live for a gray-haired audience on public television.

One of the folkies wears Birkenstocks and white socks; the film is most likely to be appreciated by those who've known people who wear such a hideous combination.

The humor is deadpan and dry, most of it rushing by in little details and offhand comments. It introduces us, for example, to a man who owns a catheter company named Sure-Flo -- a business, he mumbles, that was named after his mother, Florence.

That made me laugh; you might not. Guest's mockumentaries are an acquired taste -- he and Eugene Levy (who found mainstream success in the American Pie movies) come up with the characters and the plot, then let the actors improvise for hours. All that's boiled down to feature-movie length.

Provided you've acquired that taste, A Mighty Wind is very funny in parts and mildly amusing throughout. Overall it's a bit underwhelming; it feels slight, even a bit rushed. But it has dozens of quotable lines that stick with you and a number of nutty characters.

A Mighty Wind's humor is gentler and less condescending than Waiting for Guffman's (community theater) and Best in Show's (dog shows). There's even -- believe it or not -- a bittersweet subplot of real compassion.

That's found in the reunion of Mitch and Mickey (Levy and Catherine O'Hara), one-time folk sweethearts whose marriage and career ended disastrously decades ago. She's now married to the catheter salesman, and he's been in and out of mental institutions and speaks in a strangled croak.

There are laughs in their reunion, but mostly it's played straight, giving A Mighty Wind a bit more heart than some of Guest's other movies. It serves it well.

Guest reteams here with his This Is Spinal Tap mates Harry Shearer and Michael McKean, who once again make authentically atrocious music together. …

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