Waiting for Guffman (1996)

“There’s a Good Reason Some Talent Remains Undiscovered.” In this frequently hilarious mockumentary directed by Christopher Guest, the small town of Blaine, Missouri – the “Stool Capital of the World” and reputed site of the first UFO landing in the United States – celebrates its one-hundred-fiftieth anniversary with an extremely amateurish musical theater production called Red, White and Blaine. Musical numbers include “Nothing Ever Happens on Mars” and “Stool Boom.” Guest steals the show as the play’s flamboyant, delusional director “Corky St. Clair.” The untalented theater troupe includes dentist “Alan Pearl” (Eugene Levy), married travel agents “Sheila and Ron Albertson” (Catherine O’Hara and Fred Willard) and Dairy Queen employee “Libby Mae Brown” (Parker Posey). Crusty retired taxidermist “Clifford Wooley” (Lewis Arquette) narrates the action. In addition, Bob Balaban portrays bitter music director “Lloyd Miller.” The “Guffman” of the title is a Broadway theater critic invited to the show who may or may not make an appearance (much like Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot). I love the scene where the old guy auditions for a role in the play by acting out a scene from Raging Bull! In another classic scene, Corky tries to persuade the town council to provide him with $100,000 to finance the production (the town’s entire annual budget is only $15,000!). Last but not least, Corky’s Hollywood memorabilia store, which is stocked with such novelties as My Dinner with Andre action figures and The Remains of the Day lunch boxes. Most of the dialogue was reportedly improvised. Guest portrayed “Nigel Tufnel” in This is Spinal Tap (1984) and “Count Rugen” in The Princess Bride (1987).

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