'A Mighty Wind' Review: Folk You Up
Let me begin by saying: thank God this movie didn’t suck. After the complete waste of space that was last week’s Zelig, I was worried I had walked into a nightmare month of terrible movies. But my hopes for Christopher Guest’s A Mighty Wind were not misplaced; it’s raucous fun and a brilliant little film.
Following the reunion of three folk acts at the death of their old producer, A Mighty Wind showcases a cast of delightfully strange, yet lovable characters with some unforgettable peppy tunes. Jonathan Steinbloom (Bob Balaban), decides to host the old bands for one last big show in honor of his late father. Some members are rusty from the old days, some acts completely reborn, and, at least, one aged folk singer has gone a bit looney since his days in the spotlight. Can they all pull together in time for a worldwide satellite broadcast?
Unlike some less-successful mockumentaries, A Mighty Wind knows how to not only play the line between reality and fiction but also the need to let a narrative breath. The film realizes that the most engaging story isn’t one that can be fulfilled by a voiceover: it’s completely character-driven, and it’s the very human interactions of the cast that will pull the story to its conclusion. From the reuniting of the trio, The Folksmen, the quirky members of the newest incarnation of The Main Street Singers and their regimented cohesion, or the drama inherent in putting ex-lovers Mitch & Mickey into their old roles, everyone has their own desires, fears, and fights, making the resolution of these little story beats all the more satisfying. But I suppose when you’re working with the creator of classics like The Princess Bride and This Is Spinal Tap¸ this level of quality is to be expected.
To be fair, I suppose you need to have some love of folk music to really love this movie because you’re going to be drowning in it. Thankfully there was real talent in this team because virtually every song is a hit. They’re catchy, enjoyable, well-written and well-performed. If you ever find yourself listening to NPR on a Sunday morning or even just went through a Flight of the Conchords phase, you’ll be right at home with these offerings.
It’s really too bad that this movie has almost completely flown under the radar. With all of the cult love for Guest’s other work, this one should clearly be better regarded among his best. If you’ve got an extra hour for a toe-tapping good time, I cannot recommend A Mighty Wind enough.