Christopher Guest delivers another of his trademark mockumentaries about oddballs living on the fringes of the entertainment world, in this case a collection of corny 1960s folk musicians brought together for a reunion concert in Manhattan. Anybody who saw Guest's similarly-made Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show will recognize most of the returning ensemble, talented actors improvising their roles as singers, managers, PR types and various hangers-on.
If there's a problem with A Mighty Wind, in fact, it's that the cast is too big. It's evident that Guest filmed a lot more scenes (many of which are often funnier than what wound up in the final cut), but had to trim in order to make his story work. He should have edited before he cast: The film tries to squeeze in so many characters that some great comic performers such as Parker Posey and Jennifer Coolidge get barely more than a couple of minutes, whereas we are forced to spend far too much time with a one-note Bob Balaban as the concert's neurotic organizer and Ed Begley Jr.'s tiresome Swedish-American network executive, who apes Yiddish expressions around his Jewish colleagues. Better served are a bleach-blonde Fred Willard, putting in his usual turn as a merry idiot, and a very funny Jane Lynch as a creepy folk singer with a porno past.
Best of all, however, are Eugene Levy (who cowrote the story with Guest) and Catherine O'Hara as an emotionally damaged former couple who were the darlings of the '60s folk circuit, getting back together for the first time in 30 years. What they do with their characters' relationship is surprisingly touching - not only because I didn't expect such pathos in this film, but because, even though I have always loved O'Hara, and even though Levy is an old pro (despite his embarrassing career choices), I had no idea the two had the capacity to find something so real and so moving in an otherwise slight little comedy. They cut right through the B.S. and belong in a movie all their own.