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Movie Review: "A Mighty Wind"

This mock documentary, directed by Christopher Guest (who also stars in it), is supposedly about a tribute that '50s and '60s folk bands are putting together for their longtime promoter, who has just died.

Of course, the bands are all fake, though we see lots of images of real folkies in Guest's creation of "The Folksmen", "The (New) Main Street Singers", and "Mitch and Mickey".

This film has been compared by some people I know to Guest's recent films "Waiting for Guffman" and "Best in Show", neither of which I've seen. I'd make a more apt comparison to the seminal mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap", a similar concept about a 70's heavy-metal band falling on hard times. Unlike "Spinal Tap", the musicians in "Mighty Wind" don't have any problems with their shows, with the exception of Eugene Levy as "Mitch Cohen", a folkie who had a nervous breakdown when "Mickey" (Catherine O'Hara) left him, and left the music.

The music's actually pretty good and faithful to the 50's and 60's folk scene, although if you listen closely to the lyrics they're alternately silly, stupid or poking fun at the genre; you have to see this film just to see Jane Lynch, as the lead female in "The New Main Street Singers", describing with a straight face her, uh, debut in the motion picture industry, or Ed Begley Jr., who was supposed to have been born in Sweden, go through a Yiddish-laced monologue on his entry into the business.

Eugene Levy is terrific as Mitch Cohen, a Bob Dylan-like folkie whose relationship with Mickey Crabbe (O'Hara) is much like the real-life on-off romance between Dylan and Joan Baez. After years with SCTV and its successors, Levy has become a great comic actor, as shown in his recent work in "Bringing Down The House".

And Harry Shearer provides many comic moments as the bass singer in "The Folksmen", including an hilarious twist in the "epilogue", where we see how the reunion show has provided work for these long-retired folkies. I won't ruin it by telling you what it is, except that the band has wound up playing at a native-American-run casino in upstate New York.

Lots of laffs, perfect for a Friday night out. Go see this film!

AYRating: ***