05 Oct

This Is Spinal Tap

“The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board: eleven, eleven, eleven…”

– Nigel Tufnel

The Setup

Every so often a movie comes along that has the right marketing budget, the right feel, and the right songs to turn it into a hype machine that takes you by storm. A Star Is Born has captured the Munch team and we are not likely to be set free anytime soon. Whether it is listening to “Shallow” for the sixth time on repeat, quoting lines from the trailer you have seen countlessly (“oohhhAAAAAaaaaHaaaaAAAAaaaaHaaaaAAAAAAAAHHHHHH“), or perhaps the best use of your time, watching parody trailers using A Star is Born as the template. It is the last one that inspired us to create a series devoted to the musical parody genre of films that have come before. We are starting out with, perhaps, the movie to put musical parodies on the map: This Is Spinal Tap. But enough of that, let’s tune in to Mark The Intern to see what this week is all about.

Oh man, this week is going to be killer. And not the good kind of killer – we’ve got three major divas in town for back-to-back shows. The worst part is, they all have these wacky riders. Wait, you don’t know what a rider is? Folks, it’s the list of stuff a band asks for at every venue. You would not believe some of them. Like, my homeboy Drake, right? Dude asks for bottles of Hennessy, Patron, Grey Goose, and Jack Daniels at every show, which is like, not even that big of a deal. Artists want booze for their backstage parties, right? And that shit is easy to source for of-age interns like me. But then he goes on to request four dozen natural-scented incense sticks. Like, where do you even buy those? I might know a friend.

The Food

Alright, the first show of the week was Jack White, right? So, I’m just skimming through the list like “Yeah, Coke Zero, I can get that at Safeway; a dozen chicken wings, I can probably get that at Safeway too,” and more regular shit like that, right? Then, in all caps, just snuck into the middle of the rider, is “1 bowl of FRESH HOME-MADE GUACAMOLE.” This diva. But that’s not all – dude goes on to detail the exact recipe he wants to be followed, down to the way to cut the avocados. I shit you not. He details, “3 or 4 slits down, 3 or 4 across. You’ll scoop out the chunks with a spoon, careful to maintain the avocado in fairly large chunks.” So like, this I can’t buy in a store, or Jack would know, and he would throw a fit, and I would lose my internship, and then I’d be short on credits for graduation next summer, so I’d have to overload one quarter… Anyway, I had to make the fucking guac just so. And like, can I be honest here? It was too chunky.

So next up, we have Jay-Z. And he’s all about the ambiance, right? He asks for matching end tables, a full-length mirror, and lighting “adequate for a relaxed atmosphere.” So, I already have to go to IKEA, right? Which is a whole thing. But then he wants all this artisan shit for food – I’m talking Fiji water. I’m talking CLEAN ice, whatever that means. And of course, a “jar of good quality peanut butter” and “good quality grape jelly.” Like, don’t even act all humble like you’re just going to save us the trouble of making you a PB and fucking J. I still have to drive all the way to IKEA. And because Safeway only had Jif, and like, Hova is going to see the jar, right? He’s going to know it’s Jif and not good quality peanut butter, my boss made me make it from scratch. Yeah, that’s right, I made the fucking peanut butter myself. They don’t pay me enough for this shit. I mean, it’s an unpaid internship, so they don’t pay me at all, but still.

Alright, so this hell storm was almost over and all we had left was the shit we had to source for Van Halen. And you think, “Oh, Van Halen, classic rock and roll, they probably want, like… Just beers and bud, right?” WRONG. They are so fucking specific. They asked for M&M’s but then say, again in all caps, and like, even underlined too, “WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES.” The fuck do they have against brown M&M’s, right? Brown M&M’s are like, as close to their natural state as possible, you know? Anyone who has seen The Wedding Planner, the 2001 classic rom-com starring Jennifer Lopez, would know that. Anyway, you probably know where this is going. My local Safeway, which, like, has some SERIOUS sourcing issues, only had bags of brown M&M’s. Of. Course. So guess who has to go and make M&M’s from scratch? This guy.

The Drink

Can I let you in on a secret? I grew up with my Grands, and fondly remember the stories they recounted to me when they were young. So, I have the standard childhood experience of hearing about all of the Janis Joplin concerts they went to. I have something of a sweet spot for her. RIP.  So now, after a long-ass week like this one, all I want is some Janis Joplin. I mean a Janis Joplin cocktail. We’re talking SoCo (her fav), amaretto, Grand Marnier, OJ, Pineapple J, and grenadine. It’s sweet. Where did I get all of this when I am on an unpaid internship for college credit and am already swimming in student debt? Let’s just say I’ve got a little rider of my own.

The Rules

The following rules apply to all movies in the A Parody is Born lineup.

🎼 Drink for every new song.

🎛 Drink when they turn it up to eleven (at your discretion, and this can happen more than once).

👯 Drink when music brings people together.

The Movie

So yeah, through a friend of a friend, the crew and I met up with these Munch cats and watched This Is Spinal Tap after we finished sourcing all that shit. And folks, This Is Spinal Tap is righteous. Like, the dudes in the movie are so funny, and even their songs are funny, you know? And like, it’s shot like The Office where it looks like a documentary but it isn’t? I mean it’s not a real documentary it’s a… Mockumentary! That’s right. But, like, they were doing this Michael Scott-shit years before The Office. So who was the real trailblazer, I ask you?

Yeah and what else. Uh. Well, their hair was really funky. And like, I couldn’t tell if they were supposed to be a hair band or, like, The Beatles? Because they had that one dude who looked like Ringo Star? But, like, everyone else had this sick 80’s flow going on, which I totally respect.

Oh and I guess this is where the “turn it up to 11” meme comes from? Is that a meme? I don’t really know what a meme is except for like, something people say a lot, and make jokes about that everyone gets except for, like, moms and dads. So yeah, they were making memes like, before the internet even existed, which is pretty cool. Anyway, I decided I no longer want to be in the entertainment business anymore but I am going to finish out this internship. I think I will try out Philosophy. This is Mark signing off, see you on the other side.

The Reviews

Mark: Righteous. I already told you it was totally righteous. How many times do I have to say it?

André: 11. Sorry, someone had to. But I really liked Spinal Tap! I did not have high expectations but it held up really well. It was a very dry humor, which I always enjoy, and maybe dry humor just ages better. I honestly don’t remember the last time I laughed this hard at a movie. Sure, maybe the pacing wasn’t perfect, and some of the songs were duds, but when This Is Spinal Tap is good, it’s good. This is definitely one I’d watch again.

Leanna: Not quite an 11, but still rocks. For a movie about a musical era that came and went before I was born and a cast that I largely didn’t recognize (except for you, Chuck McGill!), I found the movie surprisingly funny and fun to watch. It’s definitely not meant to be taken seriously as the cast takes it serious enough for everyone – something that was necessary appreciated as it really helped pull off the vision for the film. It was the perfect film to kick off this series as its clear that the other films we have planned, as well as many others we don’t, have clearly taken inspiration from Spinal Tap.

Ben: 75%. This Is Spinal Tap has so many things going for it: the 82-minute runtime, and… Well, that is really huge boon if I am being honest. And, fortunately, it doesn’t stop there: it has some wonderful “sketches” throughout, small gags that could go unnoticed, and a solid cast of actors that have all deeply bought into the idea. That isn’t to say it is not without flaws. There is a sharp contrast between the bits that work and the bits that don’t, and it is the latter that can quickly take you out of the moment. The second is the entirety of the Jeanine Pettibone character, essentially the antagonist in this story. The movie, in building an analogy between Spinal Tap and The Beatles, set’s up the Jeanine character as the Yoko Ono of the group, an analogy that also taps into Hollywood’s history of whitewashing characters. This is further complicated by the fact that the role here is only to tear the group apart. And the optics of the only person of color in your film being the antagonist is not a good one. The optics of the entire cast being white is arguably worse. Often, media is given a pass for being a product of its time, but Beverly Hills Cop, released in the same year as Spinal Tap, had no issues being the highest grossing film that year.