Waiting For Guffman – Blu-Ray Review
Waiting For Guffman, a film of unbridled originality and hilarity, seems to find itself in the shadows and goes unnoticed in a world of fart-jokes, Family Guy, and Will Ferrell movies. There is something oddly refreshing about the writing style and unbelievably interesting stories that Christopher Guest is able to create. You may have seen Guest in his most notable film This is Spinal Tap as Nigel Tufnel. Christopher Guest actually helped write that film and went on to take the very unique style of the Mockumentary and adapt it to his own purposes in five different films in a span of twenty years. It is clear that these films are not for everyone. Guest has managed to create a world of his very own – a world hilarious and completely original (which is no small feat all things considered). Part of the reason Guest was able to do this semi-frequently is the absolutely amazing ensemble he chooses to work with. This ensemble usually contains the same group of outstanding people including but is not limited to: Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Michael Hitchcock, Parker Posey, Christopher Guest, and Fred Willard. As you can see the cast is irreverent, all around multi-talented, and without a doubt hilarious.
Our story follows the small town of Blaine, Missouri and its citizens who are fast approaching their 150th anniversary. They turn to one of their citizens, Corky St. Clair (Christopher Guest), a former off-off-off-off-off broadway director who has hopes of putting on a show the town will never forget entitled Red, White, and Blaine. Mr. St. Clair holds auditions and gets a rather unique group together. The lead being played by Dr. Allan Pearl (Eugene Levy), the town’s dentist. As the musical is being put together, St. Clair takes it upon himself to write to several big wigs in New York City about his Musical and attracts the attention of Broadway theatre critic Mr. Guffman. One thing is clear, however proud the ensemble and St. Clair is of their musical, it is not one for the ages and is as unique as its cast.
The stories surrounding each character are unique and each one more funny. Guest has a way highlighting the small eccentricities that however rarified in real life seem to encompass entire personalities within his films. I particularly loved Levy, and O’Hara in this film. Both oozed eccentricity and wonderful moments come from both of them. Posey looks so very young I barely recognized her for the normal badass, rude woman she usually plays. As usual, the best role of all in which everything seemed to hinge upon was played by Guest himself. Corky St. Clair played by the wrong person could have really fell flat entirely.
The Film 4.5/5
Roberto Schaefer helps bring Guest’s vision to life this time around and would work again with him on Best in Show as well. With as tight knit as Guest seems to get with his repeated players, this comes as no surprise. Which brings me to my overall impressions of quality for the transfer to blu-ray. This is probably the first and only time I can confidently say that transfer to Blu-ray was probably, if not completely, unnecessary. Was the picture clearer? Sure. Was the overall impact of the story, punchlines, and eccentricities better for it? Absolutely not. Nor would it impact my buying decision. If the DVD version and the blu-ray version sat side-by-side and the blu-ray was $1.00 more, I would probably recommend the DVD. Please do not misunderstand me. My point is simply that the film didn’t need a clearer picture to have the effect. The overall quality is nice and at time very clear with plenty of detail but again seems a bit superfluous.
Picture Quality 4/5
Here is one of the main and only issues I encountered whilst watching the film. The audio quality starts out rather rough and the dialogue seems distant and hard to hear what was being said. Once I got the subtitles on and the film moved forward it seemed to get better and better until the problem ceased altogether. There is another aspect to consider, that in a very basic way this film is, after all, about a musical. So we, of course, we must consider the music and songs therewithin no matter how seriously there were meant to be taken. The music within the Red, White, and Blaine are funny, awkward, and absolutely everything I’d expect from Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy, who both had a hand in writing the film.
Audio Quality 2/5
What an absolutely terrible choice for the cover art, is my very first thought before taking off the shrinkwrap for this film. Which, if nothing else, does nothing to convince me that if I saw it on the shelves that I would consider purchasing it without having seen it. That being said, Warner has yet again done a great job of making solid packaging. We get a solid Amaray case with a single disc and identical image on the disc itself. The construction and thought seem well enough and the quality should make this release last for some time.
The Packaging 3/5
Impressed falls slightly short of how I feel about what is included in this edition. Usually, when it comes to Warner archives I find myself not expecting any additional extras to be included. However here we get quite a few extra scenes included, by my count we get fourteen additional scenes, which by any means is impressive. In addition to that, we get the traditional commentary and Trailer. The special features are as follows:
Special Features 2.5/5
This film does not fit into a certain category for me. However good this film is, it is impossible to hold it in high regard with classicly great films. Guest’s films are not like those, they stand on their own. Make no mistake – these films are great (and I do mean all of the Guest films, including This is Spinal Tap). They offer something that no others seem to come close to so consistently. That is simply, originality. Think about how much impact the format has had on film and television (especially television) over the years. That can, in large part be traced back to these films and this ensemble. This film in particular on the other hand, lacks in some subtle areas that Best in Show succeeded in and fell short of achieving the notoriety of Spinal Tap. However this film is just plain good and enjoyable. You can purchase this edition HERE.