Opens Fri May 9
Actors are no good at playing real people. They're actors. When they're pretending to really talk on the phone to someone, they pause too much, they intentionally trip on their words, they look too intense, their movements are contrived, and they're always working up to the punch line. It's a weird thing that actors can't pretend to be real people, but they can't--which is only the first reason that A Mighty Wind flops.
The second reason is folk music. Christopher Guest's latest mockumentary about a reunion of 1960s folk heroes initially seemed boring to me. I felt as if folk singers were too innocuous a subject, or too easy a target to be uproariously funny, but I figured Christopher Guest would find some clever way to spin them. But no. No angle, no interesting characters, no intrigue--just folk music, and lots of it.
The third, but not final, reason A Mighty Wind sucks is the interviews--you know, those clever improvy mock interviews Guest does in Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show. Well, there are one million little interviews in A Mighty Wind and not one of them is poignant or funny or real; which, as anyone who's seen a real documentary knows, is the whole point of making a documentary. This film has none of the urgency or guts or spark of a real, revealing documentary starring real, complex people. It's just one washed-up folk singer after another stammering along about how their group started or lost members or disbanded or whatever. These are the kinds of stories your boring neighbor tells until your brain spins.
Most of Wind's characters are painful and mind numbing to watch, and Eugene Levy is atrocious as an ex-folkie with a completely unexplained mental disorder and no definable personality. Catherine Keener is pretty good, but she seems like she's acting. Parker Posey is great, but she's only in the film for five minutes.
Anyway, the final, least offensive, but still annoying quality of A Mighty Wind is Guest's pathetic attempt at sex humor. In one scene, people screw loudly, banging their bed against the wall while Eugene Levy practices guitar in his hotel room. One dude says a candle looks like a penis. There are about a half-dozen other jokes, but I can't recollect them, and they wouldn't be funny if I could.
I will say that A Mighty Wind might appeal to a certain kind of person (fellow viewers did laugh). This person is older, has a decent knowledge of the folk music scene, and therefore might actually relate to the caricatures. To this person, Guest's mockery of an old-school folk music reunion might be funny, or it might just be as fun to watch as a real folk music reunion. But either way, A Mighty Wind is completely lost on me.