Directed by: Christopher Guest
Written by:Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy
Starring: Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Bob Balaban, Parker Posey, Harry Shearer, Ed Begley Jr.
Released: July 24, 2003
Grade: B

A mock-umentary is a film that is shot like a documentary but is actually a work of fiction.  Director/writer/actor Christopher Guest astutely explored this genre once before – in 2000’s Best In Show.  If you never saw the film, it’s a must rent video release in Guest follows the plight of several dog owners as they stop at nothing to win the lucrative Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show.

Practically the entire cast of Best In Show also appear in A Mighty Wind and this, along with other similarities, give a slight “been there, done that” feel.  The two films are identical in style and the novelty and humour associated with the genre has worn a touch thin.

Here, famous folk music producer Irving Steinbloom has passed away and one of his sons, Jonathan (Balaban) is putting together a concert as a tribute to his late father.  New York’s Town Hall is the venue but there’s only two weeks to prepare.  The headline act is Mitch & Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara) who were once the biggest item in the world of folk music but broke up in the early 70s and haven’t performed together since.  Also performing will be The Folksman (Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean) and the nine-member group, The New Main Street Singers.

The first act of A Mighty Wind plots the history of all the characters and Steinbloom’s organisation of the concert.  The second act watches them rehearse, prepare and rekindle old memories.  The third and final act sees the concert performed, but not without a few hiccups.

The story is told through a mixture of regular scenes and staged interviews.  Some characters are hilarious (such as Fred Willard who plays a lively agent) but others are time wasters and their idiosyncratic personalities were more annoying than funny.  Also working against the film is the limited interest and appeal I have for folk music.  The dog owners in Best In Show provided more opportunities for humour.

Despite these shortcomings, A Mighty Wind has enough one-liners to justify a look.  If you’re a lover of folk music however, there’s no doubt that you’ll want to be there front-row centre!