Wouldn’t it be amazing if the great David St. Hubbins, the amazing Nigel Tufnel, and the wonderful Derek Smalls appeared together in one film showcasing their groundbreaking band, Spinal Tap? And what if legendary director Marty DiBergi filmed a documentary to preserve the band’s journey for posterity? Well, it actually happened, and the resulting film became This Is Spinal Tap.
The movie was “written” by actors Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest along with director Rob Reiner — a basic storyline had been constructed, but much of the dialogue was improvised. During the film, we get to hear some of Spinal Tap’s greatest hits, including “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight,” “Big Bottom,” and “Stonehenge.” McKean, Shearer, and Guest played their own instruments and had perfect over-the-top British accents.
The parody was so well executed that several people came up to Rob Reiner after viewing the film and said they loved the film, but why didn’t he choose a more popular band for his documentary? Among the honors This Is Spinal Tap has earned are the number 29 spot on the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Laughs. New York Times film critic Janet Maslin wrote, “It stays so wickedly close to the subject that it is very nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.”