This Is Spinal Tap (1984)



Critic Consensus: Smartly directed, brilliantly acted, and packed with endlessly quotable moments, This Is Spinal Tap is an all-time comedy classic.

Movie Info

A spoof about a filmmaker making a documentary about a once-famous, now almost forgotten British heavy metal band returning to the United States after 17 years for a concert tour.

Rating: R
Genre: Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 14, 1998


as David St. Hubbins

as Nigel Tufnel

as Marty DiBergi

as Derek Smalls

as Ian Faith

as Mick Shrimpton

as Viv Savage

as Jeanine

as Tommy Pischedda

as Bobbi Flekman

as Sir Denis Eaton-Hogg

as Morty the Mime

as Terry Ladd

as Artie Fufkin

as Lt. Hookstratten

as John "Stumpy" Pepys

as Heavy Metal Fan

as Heavy Metal Fan

as Heavy Metal Fan

as Ethereal Fan

as New York MC

as Ronnie Pudding

as Bartender

as Mime Waitress

as Mime Waitress

as Angelo DiMentibello

as Antelo's Associate

as Rolling Stone Report...

as Limo Groupie

as Rack Jobber

as Southern Rock Promot...

as Tucker 'Smitty' Brow...

as Fame Groupie

as Fame Groupie

as Student Promoter

as Eric 'Stumpy Joe' Ch...

as Jamboree Bop Dancer

as Jamboree Bop Dancer

as Belinda

as Girlfriend (uncredit...

as Airport Security Off...

as Room Service Guy

as Disc & Dat Manager

as Polly Deutsch

as Little Druid

as Little Druid

as Joe 'Mama' Besser

as L.A. Party Guest

as Duke Fame
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for This Is Spinal Tap

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Critic Reviews for This Is Spinal Tap

All Critics (63) | Top Critics (8)

For music biz insiders, This Is Spinal Tap is a vastly amusing satire of heavy metal bands.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

For all its japes and jokes, the movie is really about exhaustion of the spirit: sitting in a bleak hotel suite at 4 a.m. with the bad taste of last night in the mouth and the feeling that tomorrow will not be a better day.

Full Review… | August 19, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

The material is consistently clever and funny, though ultimately the attitudes are too narrow to nourish a feature-length film.

Full Review… | December 17, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Reiner's brilliantly inventive script and smart visuals avoid all the obvious pitfalls, making this one of the funniest ever films about the music business.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Yes Nigel, you did go to 11. Where would cinematic comedy be if you hadn't?

Full Review… | March 3, 2014

Consistently funny, with sheer brilliant turns from every performer on the cast...

Full Review… | January 19, 2013
Cinema Crazed

Audience Reviews for This Is Spinal Tap

The best mocumentary ever made. A hilarious ride concerning a slowly desinigrating rock band. To think that some people took this seriously when it first came out is actually frighteningly believable, because the acting is that good. This is an effective satire on the rock and roll genre that features many gags that work effectively. A slim running time is actually ideal this kind of movie as well, Reiner cuts the risk of running the same joke over and over again for a long time period, instead this short running time works out perfectly that it doesn't go overboard into self-indulgence territory. Quite simply this is one of my favorite films and a movie that should not be missed.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Great for someone who loves rock music, like me. The film works because it feels like a legit documentary. Funny thing is, the music that this so called band makes is pretty good. Turn it up to 11 and enjoy some great satire. By the way, be prepared for a lot of dry humor.

Market Man
Eric Shankle

Super Reviewer

"You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?"

Spinal Tap, the world's loudest band, is chronicled by hack documentarian Marty DeBergi on what proves to be a fateful tour.

The soundtrack itself is stand alone (satirical) brilliance, before we even delve into the mockumentary of the fictitious British band whose speakers are so loud, they go to eleven. Reiner's documentary style film follows the band on its tour of the USA, as they traverse the country playing to half empty houses, experiencing myriad crises (e.g. band members leaving, shows being cancelled) and minor debacles (e.g. the appetisers and set work). Their struggle to deliver a unique brand despite the critics scorn is nothing short of heroic.

The principal trio (McKean, Guest and Shearer) are pitch perfect as no-brain rockers with dim ideas and infantile (yet still potent) lyrics ("big bottom, big bottom, talk about mud flaps my girl's got 'em"), led around by their faithful manager (Hendra) enduring every ignominy a touring band could experience from getting lost en route to the stage via the green room to the bass player becoming locked inside a cocoon as part of an act. Director Reiner plays the band's documenter, Patrick MacNee has a cameo as a promoter and Fran Drescher, Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby, Ed Begley Jr, Howard Hesseman and Paul Schaefer all have bit parts.

The documentary style filmmaking, mostly handheld, makes it look even more realistic, and makes the band's antics that much more amusing. The film's slim plot is punctuated by interviews with individual band members (some of the funniest parts of the movie), as well as music videos and live performances of the band's god-awful music. No matter how bad their reputation or their sales or their popularity is, they just keep pressing on, assuming that things will pick up soon, and it is an endless source of amusement watching them rationalize their dropping success rate and coming up with reasons that the band should stay together. This is not Oscar winning material. Not by a long shot. None of the actors in the film were well known when it was made, nor are any of them famous today, but the uniqueness and effectiveness of the comedy and of the film as a whole make it worth while. Fans of all kinds of music, not just metal, can enjoy this very funny comedy.

Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

This Is Spinal Tap Quotes

– Submitted by Alex W (15 months ago)
– Submitted by Taylor P (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Leia B (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Daidoji Z (3 years ago)

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