This pioneering mockumentary was far from a box-office triumph on its initial release, but it eventually developed a devoted following through home video release and even a concert tour and album for the film’s fictional heavy metal band. The film’s writers and stars— Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Rob Reiner—had been friends for years when they decided to turn their frustrations with bad rock’n’roll movies into a feature of their own. They developed a scenario about a troubled band around which the cast—including Fred Willard, Paul Shaffer, Billy Crystal and Anjelica Huston—were encouraged to improvise. Reiner, who made his film directing debut with the picture, as well as playing documentarian Marty DiBergi in the film, had people tell him he should have made a film about a better-known band. Perhaps that reaction was rooted in the film’s attention to detail. Much of the band’s strangest behavior was inspired by real-life metal bands, while some rockers have said they couldn’t laugh at the film because it was all too true.
Dir. Rob Reiner