The Review/Short Read/

One To Watch: This Is Spinal Tap

Turn it up to eleven, even if it doesn't go there

Jun 30, 2016

WHY TO WATCH: It’s hard to agree on which movies are the best, any given category. Is John Carpenter’s The Thing the greatest body horror movie ever made? Is it Cronenberg’s The Fly? Which Hayao Miyazaki movie was his masterpiece? (Hint: it’s a tight tie between rincess Mononoke and Spirited Away). No need to despair, my quantitatively-oriented friends, there’s one movie we can all universally say is the best of its kind.

This is Spinal Tap is coming to TIFF Bell Lightbox this Sunday, July 3 for a special Cinemateque screening. A satire of rock-band culture, Rob Reiner’s fictional documentary about “one of England’s loudest bands” was so true to life that audiences didn’t realize it was a spoof when it came out back in 1984.

Without This is Spinal Tap, TV shows like The Office, Parks and Recreation and Veep wouldn’t have had a starting point. The jokes in Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows and Andy Samberg’s Popstar: Never Stop Stopping can trace a straight line between them and those in Spinal Tap. Sacha Baron Cohen wouldn’t be where he is today if this classic rock mockumentary hadn’t proved that the genre is ripe with comedic possibilities.

Besides being the most quotable, re-watchable and influential comedy ever made, This is Spinal Tap also seemed to spawn the best movie-related trivia ever. In fact, the trivia is so crucial to the Spinal Tap experience that you probably already know about most of them.

Okay here goes:

  1. It’s the only movie on IMDb rated out of 11.

  2. There’s a scene where David St. Hubbins explains what happened to their first drummer, “He died in a bizarre gardening accident.” Eerily, decades after Spinal Tap came out, two famous drummers died in bizarre gardening accidents: ABBA’s Ola Brunkert and Toto’s Jeff Porcaro.

  3. U2 had an embarrassing Spinal Tap moment on stage in 1997. In the movie, Derek Smalls gets trapped inside an alien pod during a stage performance. In real life, U2 was momentarily trapped inside a giant fake lemon. To quote this shortlist article, “If there’s anyone on this planet who deserves to get trapped inside a giant fake lemon, it’s Bono.”

  4. Nigel Tufnel’s classical song, “Lick My Love Pump” isn’t the first piece of classical music to have a rude name. Mozart composed a canon called “Leck mich im Arsch.” You probably should go to the Wikipedia page to see what it means.

  5. JK Rowling said during an interview that This is Spinal Tap inspired a sinister recurring gag in the Harry Potter novels. The running joke about the deaths of the band’s drummers was an inspiration for how the Defense Against the Dark Arts professors change every year because the position is cursed.