A review of “A Mighty Wind” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: PG-13 for sexual humor

Run Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

 

 

Folk icon Irving Steinbloom (1920-2003) has passed away, leaving a legacy of musical harmony that has moved generations.  To celebrate a life devoted to folk, Steinbloom’s doting son Jonathan (Bob Balaban) arranges a televised tribute concert featuring Steinbloom senior’s most beloved musicians.

Thus begins Christopher Guest’s new comic ode to Americana, an exuberant spoof on the tenuous art of folk music and the hits that almost made its artists famous.

Kitschy vignettes pepper this uber-clever mockumentary. Jonathan frantically scours the country to reunite his dad’s favorite acts: classic troubadours The Folksmen (Guest and “Spinal Tap” vets Michael McKean and Harry Shearer), the dreamy duo of Mitch & Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara) and the newly revitalized New Main Street Singers (Parker Posey and John Michael Higgins, among others). The groups are captured in extemporaneous interviews and backstage rehearsals, waxing poetic about their devotion to folk and their melodious days of yore. 

With a scant two weeks to prepare for the big day, the going gets hectic.  Mitch needs to be sprung from the Cherry Hills Psychiatric Hospital for his rebound performance with bitter-ex wife Mickey. Main Street’s Terry and Laurie Bohner (Higgins and Jane Lynch) credit the vibratory power of color for their newfound success.  Not to mention Laurie’s vast showbiz experience as a former porn star. The Folksmen alum can’t agree on a single thing, while Main Street’s flamboyant manager (Fred Willard) gushes a geyser of fresh ideas for Starfish Cruise gigs while incessantly rehashing his fifteen minutes fame on a long-since-failed sitcom.

 Christopher Guest owns the mockumentary. From “Spinal Tap” to “Waiting for Guffman” and “Best in Show”, Guest’s spoofs are routinely pitch-perfect.  “Wind” is on the subtler side, but maintains a delightfully dry wit and well-balanced restraint. Guest regulars smoothly improvise their way through the trials and tribulations of their characters’ mini-mini-comeback, guaranteed to make them legends in their own minds.