Christopher Guest, one of the minds and bodies behind This Is Spinal Tap, returns to the familiar territory of the fake documentary for this account of a small town's sesquicentennial pageant. Guest knows that people are never so funny as when they're taking themselves seriously, and, as in Spinal Tap, this knowledge is exploited brilliantly here. Unlike Tap, however, Guffman occasionally comes off as either too mean-spirited or too gentle. After all, small-town middle America is second only to pretentious heavy-metal bands as far as broad satirical targets go, but it's also more likely to provoke sentimentality and bullying. Scenes of natives discussing UFO landings are a little too obvious, and Guest's mincing closet-queen character can wear thin at times. All that aside, it's a very funny, convincingly acted movie made all the more so by its semi-improvisational style. Even if you're unlikely to be quoting lines from it 13 years later, Waiting For Guffman is an awful lot more entertaining than such recent anti-comedies as 8 Heads In A Duffel Bag and The Pest.
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