This Is Spinal Tap Movie Review

This Is Spinal Tap

Does for rock and roll what 'The Sound Of Music' did for hills


Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner

Tony Hendra, Fran Drescher, June Chadwick, Bruno Kirby, Ed Begley Jr., Dana Carvey, Jean Cromie, Chazz Dominguez, Shari Hall, David Kaff, Danny Kortchmar, Patrick Macnee, Patrick Maher, R.J. Parnell, Julie Payne, Kimberly Stringer Update Cast

Early Appearances

See Dana Carvey before they were famous!


Look for Julie Payne, Dana Carvey, Billy Crystal, Zane Buzby, Paul Benedict, Paul Shaffer, Anjelica Huston, Fred Willard, Brinke Stevens, Marcia Strassman making a cameo appearance!

Thanks to John Edward Kilduff
In the May 23rd, 2003 issue of Entertainment Weekly, "This Is Spinal Tap" was voted the Top Cult Movie of all time. Michael McKean recreated the role of David St. Hubbins for a photo shoot that seated him next to Daryl Hannah, in character as Pris from "Blade Runner", another movie that made the list. Ironically, both movies had their video rights held at one point by Embassy Home Entertainment.

More Trivia from This Is Spinal Tap


Spinal Tap... Legends before their time, during their time, and after their time.

They are comprised of David St. Hubbins on lead guitar and vocals (McKean), Nigel Tufnel on lead guitar and vocals (Guest) and Derek Smalls on bass and vocals (Shearer), along with keyboardist Viv Savage (David Kaff) and their current drummer (the 6th one, at last count) Mick Shrimpton (R.J Parnell). They go to 11 with quirky backstage demands, off-kilter personal lives and songs like "Big Bottom" and "Hell Hole".

On what shall prove to be a turning point in their careers, they enlist the hack filmmaker Marty DiBergi (Reiner), who got his start making commercials, to film a documentary of their latest tour to promote the controversial "Smell The Glove" album.

It's bad news right from the get-go with a pathetic Sammy Davis Jr.-loving cab driver for the band (Kirby) and chain-smoking record label representative Bobbi Flekman (Drescher) in a yelling match with manager Ian Faith (Hendra) over the matter of "Smell The Glove" and its cover (depicting a woman on all fours sniffing at a black gloved hand). This is soon to be the least of Tap's worries. With the admonition of "Tap Into America" by label boss Sir Denis Eaton-Hogg (Patrick Macnee), the Tap set off to rock America to its knees.

We see many examples of the band's unique wants and tastes, including objections to the cuts of small sandwiches, an amplifier that goes one louder than 10, an array of guitars that cannot even be looked at, much less touched, and bizarre songwritings, as evidenced from the 60s feels of "Gimme Some Money" (with Ed Begley. Jr as John 'Stumpy' Pepys on drums) and "Listen To The Flower People" to the mid-80s bombast "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight".

All is seeming okay, yet there are signs of fraying all over. A radio station plays an old Tap single and asks the horrifying question "Where Are They Now?". The boys run into the infamous shock rocker Terry Ladd (Howard Hesseman), who is rolling in success and has hot babes on each arm. The band can't find their way to a Cleveland stage, even when given the instructions multiple times. Finally, we arrive at Jeanine Pettibone (June Chadwick), St. Hubbins' wife and the woman who will serve as a Yoko Ono for the group, if only briefly.

She designs freakish costumes and engages in mystical practices. This is all bought to an inevitable horrible conclusion with a performance of "Stonehenge" ("Where the demons dwell"). A massive replica of the British landmark was to be included in this number, but mistaken measurements lead to a joke of a performance, especially when the midgets come out.

Tufnel, fed up with the directions the band is heading into, leaves Tap at a military air base they were hired to play. Spinal Tap, now in great disarray, ends their tour not in an arena or a stadium, but at an amusement park second-billed after a puppet show. The tour-ending party is a sad affair, and it looks like there's no future for the band. As with all things 80s, though, a happy ending does occur. Tufnel returns, the band goes to 11 again, and they become big in Japan. Happy endings all around, and that's worth more than a platinum record any day.

Author: John Edward KilduffUpdate This Review


The greatest 'mockumentary' ever made. The comedy is written in a great deadpan style, with much material improvised. It helps if you know the quirks of bands from Zeppelin to Van Halen, but even if you don't, there's still enough funny lines for you to enjoy.

The cast is having great fun, and Reiner turns in great direction (too bad that with his last few minutes, he's become quite the Marty DiBergi type himself, but that's neither here nor there). Rent... nay, buy this DVD, and 'tonight you'll be rocked tonight'.

Great lines, superb acting and direction, funny songs... Can you believe this movie didn't earn any Academy Award nominations?
The only weakness is a small takes a while to grow on you. Don't worry, though, because you'll be in tune soon enough.

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The Movie Data

Key Crew

Director: Rob Reiner
Writer: Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner
Producers: Karen Murphy
Locations Manager: Douglas E. Stoll

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Release Date: 02 Mar 1984
MPAA Rating: R
Studio: Embassy Pictures Corporation
Production: Spinal Tap Prod.
Genre: Comedy

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The Movie Trailer
Jump To: Music & Soundtrack Vibes
1984 Embassy Pictures Corporation
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