A Mighty Wind

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: A Mighty Wind

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu

The Pitch: Influential (and fictional) folk music producer Irvin Steinbloom has died. To honor his life and contribution to folk music, his children organize a tribute concert featuring his three favorite folk music acts: The Folksmen, The New Main Street Singers, and Mitch & Mickey. Director Christopher Guest follows the concert as it comes together in his signature mockumentary style, and along with the expected laughs, the movie also delivers some truly outstanding folk music.

Why It’s Essential Viewing: The last time Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, and Christopher Guest got together as a musical trio, it was in the 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap from director Rob Reiner. Largely improvised and written by the filmmaker and the three comedians, it followed “one of England’s loudest bands,” mocking all of the rock and roll behavior and tendencies seen in real rock documentaries like Gimme Shelter and The Last Waltz. In A Mighty Wind, we see a much different side of them as these three form the much more refined and reserved folk music group The Folksmen, who haven’t seen each other in decades. And to sweeten the deal, they’re joined by pretty much every cast member from Best in Show.

Joining The Folksmen for the concert are The New Main Street Singers, the second generation of the original Main Street Singers. The ensemble of performers providing complex harmonies includes John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch, and Parker Posey in a group that is very much the popular, mainstream, perhaps somewhat maligned side of folk music. Adding to that vibe is their obnoxious manage Mike LaFontaine, played by Fred Willard in a scene stealing performance that we’ll just let you discover for yourself.

Finally, there’s Mitch & Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara), a former couple who found fame with no less than seven albums until they  had a dramatic break-up that left Mitch with an emotional breakdown from which he never really recovered. This duo provides much of the heart of A Mighty Wind, bringing an especially touching moment to the concert. But don’t worry, because Levy and O’Hara still have plenty of great comedic moments, just as they did in Best in Show.

Along with the frequent laughter throughout the movie, A Mighty Wind also comes packed with an awesome folk music concert. Though there’s comedy in the characters, there’s an authenticity to the music. And that’s what makes this movie work so well. There’s a real love for the folk music scene being parodied in this film, and you can feel it when the characters bring their voices together for some real magic. It’ll make you wish you could see all these groups in a real concert.

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