Sunday, August 1, 2010

Episode 20: Waiting for Guffman

There are a lot of Firsts in my days. My First pair of Umbros that were half teal and half purple. My First dance recital that was spent messing with my hair rather than dancing. My First dog Cocoa that shared her dog food when I was curious about the taste. My First trip to Disney World where I slept most of the trip on my uncle's shoulders. My First CD that I owned, New Kids on the Block's Merry Merry Christmas. My First adult apartment with painted yellow walls. My First viewing of Titanic in the theater that was quickly followed by 4 more views. My First man to fall in love with, Davy Jones. Finally, My First Mockumentary with "Waiting for Guffman."

Introduced in high school, "Waiting for Guffman" was my first mockumentary experience. The first time I viewed this movie, I thought it was boring, but I laughed to look cool. Then after the 2nd or 3rd time, I loved it. I was able to see the humor and appreciate this new movie genre. I love "Best in Show" and "Drop Dead Gorgeous" but I think this movie will always be my number one mock, because it was my first.

I can relate to this movie so well due to my life experiences. Half of my year is spent choreographing and preparing for a musical production. My love for dance quickly translated into musical theater at a young age. I can't sing or act, but I can dance and react to a scene. I have sat through many rehearsals judging those actors with their choreography. I have been a part of MANY entertaining productions, but not quite as as good as we all believed them to be. This movie is my life. The actors in this movie have all portrayed a personality that I've worked with. If you have any experience in theater, this is a must see.

A penny for your thoughts,

First off, on numerous occasions I have advised Lindsey not to share that bit about trying dog food. She refuses to listen. My next step is to mock her mercilessly in hopes that she'll tuck that bit of info into the back of her mind and never let it out again. She's ruined several business deals for me with this story. (That's not true on any level.)

Second, I, too, love the mockumentary. "The Office" is my favorite TV show of all time, not to mention the others that have followed the example like "Parks and Recreation" and "Modern Family." (In fact, "The Office" might be responsible for the saving of the American sitcom. More on that another time.) "Drop Dead Gorgeous" is without question my favorite movie from Lindsey's list so far. And then there's the entire Christopher Guest collection.

A brief primer for those out of the loop. "Waiting for Guffman" is a mockumentary based around the inhabitants of Blaine, Missouri and the play the local "thespians" put together to honor the town's history. The group is led by Corky St. Clair, a man who once went to New York and (possibly) spent some time off-off-off Broadway. As their production gets closer, word reaches Corky that a New York stage critic (Mr. Guffman) will be attending the performance. Hilarity ensues.

Here's my deal with the works of Guest. I almost never laugh or "lol" as the kids call it these days. I chuckle from time to time and I probably grin a little from time to time, but I don't just go nuts with the laughter. I absolutely appreciate what he does and recognize the genius. "Best in Show" in particular is INCREDIBLE in a way that you can't understand unless you've seen it. But I don't laugh. I feel like I'm always saying to myself, "that's really funny" but it's just not the kind of funny that elicits laughter. I think the "problem" (if you can call it that) is how real Guest's characters are. All of his movies are magnificent character studies, better than almost any actual documentary. Everyone else who does a mockumentary takes normal human characteristics and exaggerates them to play up the humor. Guest doesn't do that. The people of Blaine, Missouri are people that I know. Everyone knows a Corky St. Clair. None of Guest's characters do anything over the top or extra ridiculous, they just talk, think, and act exactly the way you know people like this really do. It's almost too surreal to laugh at because you're in awe of how authentic these weirdos are.

So despite the fact that there was very little LOLing and certainly no ROFLing from my side of the couch, I found "Waiting for Guffman" to be yet another excellent piece of work from a brilliant mind. Grade: A-

Favorite character: Corky St. Clair (Christopher Guest)
As noted, all of these characters are A-MAZING but "Guffman" falls apart without an outstanding job by Guest in the lead role.

Favorite scene: The entire play
Seriously a genius 25 minutes. I think my eyes were wide and my mouth open throughout the entire thing. Perfect example of how well Guest understands his settings.

Favorite line:
Dr. Pearl (Eugene Levy): "People say, 'You must have been the class clown.' And I say, 'No I wasn't. But I sat next to the class clown and I studied him." (Completely straight delivery from a dentist who is clearly only funny on the unintentional level.)

Don't eat dog food, kids,

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