This Is Spinal Tap

1984

This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

TOMATOMETER

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

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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.

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Cast

Michael McKean
as David St. Hubbins
Christopher Guest
as Nigel Tufnel
Rob Reiner
as Marty DiBergi
Harry Shearer
as Derek Smalls
Tony Hendra
as Ian Faith
R.J. Parnell
as Mick Shrimpton
David Kaff
as Viv Savage
Bruno Kirby
as Tommy Pischedda
Ed Begley Jr.
as John 'Stumpy' Pepys
Fran Drescher
as Bobbi Flekman
Patrick Macnee
as Sir Denis Eaton-Hogg
Billy Crystal
as Morty the Mime
Howard Hesseman
as Terry Ladd
Paul Shaffer
as Artie Fufkin
Fred Willard
as Lt. Hookstratten
Kimberly Stringer
as Heavy Metal Fan
Chazz Dominguez
as Heavy Metal Fan
Shari Hall
as Heavy Metal Fan
Jean Cromie
as Ethereal Fan
Patrick Maher
as New York MC
Danny Kortchmar
as Ronnie Pudding
Memo Vera
as Bartender
Julie Payne
as Mime Waitress
Dana Carvey
as Mime Waitress
Sandy Helberg
as Angelo DiMentibello
Robin Menken
as Antelo's Associate
Zane Buzby
as Rolling Stone Reporter
Jennifer Child
as Limo Groupie
J.J. Barry
as Rack Jobber
George McDaniel
as Southern Rock Promoter
Paul Benedict
as Tucker 'Smitty' Brown
Cherie Darr
as Fame Groupie
Lara Cody
as Fame Groupie
Andrew J. Lederer
as Student Promoter
Russ Kunkel
as Eric 'Stumpy Joe' Childs
Diana Duncan
as Jamboree Bop Dancer
Gina Marie Pitrello
as Jamboree Bop Dancer
Brinke Stevens
as Girlfriend (uncredited)
Joyce Hyser
as Belinda
Gloria E. Gifford
as Airport Security Official
Archie Hahn III
as Room Service Guy
Charles Levin
as Disc & Dat Manager
Anjelica Huston
as Polly Deutsch
Chris Romano
as Little Druid
Daniel Rodgers
as Little Druid
Fred Asparagus
as Joe 'Mama' Besser
Rodney Kemerer
as L.A. Party Guest
Paul Shortino
as Duke Fame
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News & Interviews for This Is Spinal Tap

Critic Reviews for This Is Spinal Tap

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (9)

Reiner, with McKean, Guest and Harry Shearer, have done a great job in creating and portraying characters that are dimwitted, cliched and yet oddly endearing.

Oct 23, 2018 | Full Review…

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

Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…
Variety
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.

Aug 19, 2008 | Full Review…

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

Dec 17, 2007 | Full Review…

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.

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

It stays so wickedly close to the subject that it is very nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4.5/5

Audience Reviews for This Is Spinal Tap

A hilarious and delicious mockumentary that features numerous memorable, well-inspired moments and works so well mostly because of its intelligent, ironic sense of humor as it pokes fun at the rock 'n' roll universe (the stars and the fans) in a very lighthearted way.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

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.

Eric Shankle
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.

REVIEW
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
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

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