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This Is Spinal Tap (Criterion) (1984)

NOTE: These commentaries are only available on the Criterion Collection edition, which is now out-of-print. A different commentary done by Spinal Tap (the actors in character) is available on the MGM edition DVD of the movie.

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director Rob Reiner, producer Karen Murphy, and editors Robert Leighton and Kent Beyda Rating:6.4/10 (9 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr on February 9th, 2008:Find all reviews by Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr
Things don't augur well for this commentary when Rob Reiner opens by declaring his dislike of commentaries, equating them with a magician telling the audience how his tricks are done.
Despite this, he still makes a valid contribution, talking about specific influences, why the drugs/groupies aspects were played down, and the struggle to get the other cast members who improvised their roles some sort of script credit (clearly still a sore point as it's referred to on the other track too), and he even lightens up enough to point out a few continuity errors.
If Reiner is a reluctant participant then no such accusation can be levelled at editors Robert Leighton and Kent Beyda, and producer Karen Murphy (all recorded separately).
Clearly proud of their association with the film, if perhaps a little bemused at its cult status, the editors detail how they shaped the 5 hour first assembly into the 82 minute version we know today, including a few post-preview trims.
Best value though is Murphy, TAP's self-proclaimed "rodeo queen" who despite this being her 108th viewing of the film (I don't think she was kidding!) still talks fondly about the many roles she fulfilled (major and minor - it was she who did the sewing to disguise the name on Reiner's cap).
All the participants refer to favourite scenes that didn't make the finished film, so these tracks were clearly recorded before it was decided to include a Deleted Scenes supplement meaning we can enjoy the scenes they refer to.
This may not have the appeal of a commentary by the three stars of the film (in or out of character) but it certainly shouldn't be ignored.
Reviewed by Buldrebisk on September 11th, 2008:Find all reviews by Buldrebisk
I can understand it when Reiner opens with kind of a warning against commentaries, because you can sometimes loose a little of the magic. And he says there are a lot of things he could tell us that would lessen the experience for us. I don't know if any of those things were spoken, but is certainly didn't lessen my experience of the film. Even though this commentary is very good, is falls a little in the shadows with the other track being superior. But it does make for a nice listen. Rob Reiner is a very good director and he conveys that in this commentary. Pretty good. 7/10
Reviewed by reidca on January 13th, 2009:Find all reviews by reidca
One of Reiner's few decent tracks (I wonder if he only did good commentaries for Criterion? Has anyone heard The Princess Bride laserdisc commentary?). He still repeats the onscreen action too much, but there are nuggets in here such as his inspirations (he loved The Last Waltz) and I was surprised to learn his film and Bride flopped initially, and Reiner formed Castle Rock to eschew his films being marketed so poorly.
Commentary 2: Writers/actors Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer Rating:7.9/10 (8 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr on February 9th, 2008:Find all reviews by Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr
Just because the three leads talk here as themselves rather than their characters, listeners shouldn't expect an over-serious examination of the film.
Yes, there's plenty of interesting info (the history and development of the characters, reminiscences about the inspiration for and filming of various scenes, and examples of how life has since imitated art, plus you'll even learn the Norwegian for "shit sandwich"!), but rest assured you're never very far from another gag.
They do get a bit more serious when talking about the(ir) music, and it's true there aren't many laughs to be had from the painful tale of the protracted negotiations needed to acquire the rights to play the characters they'd invented so they could undertake the 1992 tour.
But overall there are almost as many laughs here as in the MGM Special Edition DVD commentary and it's nicely summed up by last exchange between the guys, underlining the fact that ultimately it's just a joy to spend another 82 minutes in their company.
And it's all in dubly of course.
Reviewed by reidca on September 5th, 2008:Find all reviews by reidca
Interesting to note that this is one of the few times (the only time?) the actors spoke about their creations out of character. Maybe they did it because it was Criterion and/or they knew the small but dedicated market of Criterion.

Anyways, this is a typically well edited Criterion track that nicely balances the funny (yes, they are still funny out of character), informative and the genuine warmth that these guys have towards their characters. A stellar example of how to do commentary right - I mean, c'mon, Criterion created the form - they know what they're doing.
Reviewed by Buldrebisk on September 11th, 2008:Find all reviews by Buldrebisk
This is a great commentary. The three together work perfectly which is also why the movie works perfectly. Having the three guys speaking out of character is still funny, but the MGM commentary where they speak in character they is even funnier. Having heard the three different commentaries of this movie this is the second best I think, almost equalling the funniness of the MGM version. While the other is more funny, this is more interesting, and probably the one that can stand a repeat more than the other one. Excellent. 9/10
Reviewed by kickerofelves on May 19th, 2010:Find all reviews by kickerofelves
I found my self a bit disappointed in the commentaries after the positive write-ups around the web.

Frustratingly Rob Reiner comes right out and doesn't hide the fact that he didn't want to do the commentary and it sort of took me out of it. He comes across as arrogant, even aloof at times as if this commentary was a huge burden on an artist such as himself. He or whomever couldn't be bothered to have them all--Reiner, editors and producer--in the same room for whatever reason. The editor and producer segments are spliced into the mix, though their insight and comments are fine.

The second track featuring the actors is better. They're in the same room and play off each other. It's mostly informative and enjoyable I thought.
Reviewed by kickerofelves on May 19th, 2010:Find all reviews by kickerofelves
I found my self a bit disappointed in the commentaries after the positive write-ups around the web.

Frustratingly Rob Reiner comes right out and doesn't hide the fact that he didn't want to do the commentary and it sort of took me out of it. He comes across as arrogant, even aloof at times as if this commentary was a huge burden on an artist such as himself. He or whomever couldn't be bothered to have them all--Reiner, editors and producer--in the same room for whatever reason. The editor and producer segments are spliced into the mix, though their insight and comments are fine.

The second track featuring the actors is better. They're in the same room and play off each other. It's mostly informative and enjoyable I thought.