Written & directed by Christopher Guest
Starring Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard & Parker Posey.
"Waiting for Guffman"
Opened: March 7, 1997 | Rated: PG-13
Simply put "Waiting For Guffman" is the "Spinal Tap" of community theater. Written by, directed by and starring "Tap" alum Christopher Guest, it features half-wit small town actors with day jobs (at a travel agency and the local Dairy Queen) and a mocumentary flavor that follows the "Tap" formula. In fact it often equals and sometimes surpasses the deadpan humor of that legendary cult film (save the grinding guitars and leather pants, of course).
Guest plays Corky St. Clair, a sexually ambiguous, failed New York actor who has holed up in ficticious Blaine, Missouri as the pathetic director of the local theater. The movie logs Corky's effort to produce his own musical about the history of Blaine for its 150th anniversery celebration.
From the tryouts in a local high school classroom to the cat fights in rehearsal to the ballsy cinematic move of showing the laughable finished play in its entirety -- complete with high praise from local yokels during intermission -- "Guffman" plays it straight and is even more hilarious than seeing similar yahoos hashing out their personal problems on Ricki Lake.
One of the hardest parts an actor can be given is that of a terrible actor. Having said that, I may have to reevaluate my slight opinions of Eugene Levy and Fred Willard, because they, along with Catherine O'Hara and Parker Posey play, quite convincingly, four of the most rediculous amature thespians in film history.
Fraught with insecurities but trying to maintain a sunshiney outlook, Corky is no star himself, making his full-frontal catty attitude all the more campy.
The title refers to the a nerve-wracking rumor running through the company of players that a Broadway producer, Mr. Guffman, is coming to see their show -- a plot device that provides the only let down of the film -- the predictable mistaken identity gag.
While the entire cast, Corky included, pin their hopes of glamorous new careers on impressing Guffman, we chuckle again and again at the crystal clear fact that they don't stand a chance -- something each of them is blissfully oblivious to.