For this week's Ranked!, we decided to rank our favorite mockumentaries. Did your favorite make the cut? Here are our Top 17:
17. I'm Still Here
16. Incident At Loch Ness
15. Fear Of A Black Hat
11. Exit Through The Gift Shop
10. The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash
9. Bob Roberts
7. The Blair Witch Project
6. A Mighty Wind
It's one thing to film a mockumentary when the cast is in on the joke. It takes cajones the size of asteroids to make your unwitting cast part of the joke. The premise of Borat is ingenious: see America by asking it to react to a foreigner, and watch that reaction through the foreigners eyes. But that's not what makes it pants-pissingly hysterical. That comes with the brilliant blend of shocking, outrageous situations and some of the most out-there shit and dick jokes ever filmed. Expressing pride at having a sister who is the #4 prostitute in Khazakstan? Check. Display a bag full of crap at a formal dinner? No problem. High five when news of your wife's death or when his brother Bilo escapes from his cage? Done. Chase your obese cameraman naked through a hotel? Wawaweega! And let's be honest: on some level we all want to put Pamela Anderson in a burlap marriage sack.
It's perfect in its "mock" and perfect in it "umentary," and one of the most unfailingly hilarious two hours I can hope for, no matter how many times I've seen it. Genius.
I'd like to close by asking everyone to sing "O Khazakstan!" with me:
Kazakhstan greatest country in the world.
All other countries are run by little girls.
Kazakhstan number one exporter of potassium.
Other countries have inferior potassium.
4. Drop Dead Gorgeous
Why do I love Drop Dead Gorgeous? Let's see, the cast lineup is amazing - Kirsten Dunst, Kirstie Alley, Allison Janney, Denise Richards - especially considering some of the stars weren't quite stars yet, such as Amy Adams's sexually-aware cheerleader ("Go Muskies!"). There are levels upon levels of gleeful inappropriateness in this movie, from the blatant stereotypes and over-the-top send-ups to the small details you almost miss, like the fireman smoking at the trailer park fire or the furry purse used to cover up Annette Atkins's... purse. The comedic timing by everyone is impeccable! There are aspects of this movie that should be highly offensive and yet, there are so many of those moments that it completely works.
Honestly, words fail me a bit when it comes to Drop Dead Gorgeous. There's nothing I can say that would even come close lines like these:
Gladys Leeman: "I know what some of your big-city, no-bra-wearin', hairy-legged women's libbers might say. "
Iris Clark: "What's sick is women dressing like men."
Amber Atkins: "My mom never hid the fact that my dad chose his career over us. What was it she always said?"
Loretta: "Once a carnie, always a carnie."
Amber: "Mom still cries every time she sees a tilt-a-whirl or a fat lady in a tube top."
Gladys Leeman: "Hey hey, Miss Penthouse '98, close those legs, I could drive a boat show in there."
Fry girl: "This pageant is like a roach motel: girls check in but they don't check out."
Becky Ann Leeman: "My mom gave me this 9 mil for my 13th birthday. Yeah. I'll always remember what she put on the card: 'Jesus Loves Winners.'"
Amber Atkins: "Well yeah Tammy liked to drive her dad's thresher! She said the heavy vibrations helped clear her mind. But I know Tammy only smoked AFTER a good drive."
Lester Leeman: "Beautiful as a whore's ass today, huh, boys?"
But by far, my favorite line in Drop Dead Gorgeous is:
Film Crew Guy: "Fucking beauty queens blowing chunks everywhere. I've never seen anything like it before, and I live in LA."
Honestly, I would watch a lot more pageants if they were like this.--The Weirdgirl
3. Best In Show
Can I let you in on a secret? I'm a dog person. "Dog" is in my job title, dogs are how I make money, and sometimes I hang out with other dog people and we spend hours talking about dogs. Literally hours. And as someone who has been immersed in the world of dogs, I can tell you with certainty that dog people are CAH-RAZY. And that's why Christopher Guest's Best In Show is so doggone funny.
It's okay. You can groan.
But you don't have to be a dog person or even like dogs to love Best In Show, the mockumentary that gives us a "behind the scenes" look at competitive dog shows and the people who compete in them. You know the characters: the neurotic yuppy couple with the high strung Weimaraner; the gay couple with the Shih Tzus; the redneck with the Bloodhound and his motor home; the middle class couple with their Norwich Terrier; the uber-competitive lesbian handler; the Anna Nicole Smith-inspired busty blond trophy wife, her much older wealthy husband and their champion Standard Poodle -- they're all stereotypes you recognize even without their canine counterparts.
However, as over-the-top as the characters are, the jokes are fairly subtle and nuanced. And they come at you constantly. Busy Bee, "They used to call me Loopy," "We both love soup" -- that is some funny stuff and delivered so well by Guest and his merry band of outstanding character actors.
I could go on but I think I'm going to watch Best In Show again for the millionth time instead. With my dog.--Tania
2. Waiting For Guffman
I don't even really know what to say because all the great words are in Waiting For Guffman. There are few movies I can watch again and again. I'm ADD, I have issues, but waiting for Waiting For Guffman... it's not action and high drama that keep me riveted. Nope. It's the the characters. They're a train wreck and what ADDer doesn't love a good train wreck?
Many (most?) members of this cast also make up the casts of some of the most highly-acclaimed mockumentaries ever made. But I feel a special affinity to this one. Perhaps it's the charm the Parker Posey, or maybe it's the sweet charm of Christopher Guest, or maybe his character (Corky) said it best, "It's a Zen thing, like how many babies fit in a tire."
I was going to call-out my favorite characters, but I think what makes this movie so full of awesome is the lovely harmony that these characters make together. Oh heck, I'll just call out a few characters…
Christopher Guest as Corky St. Clair: By far, the best lines ever. I could listen/watch that man talk ALL DAY. Especially when he's angry. A master orator of angry words indeed, "...and I'll tell you why I can't put up with you people: because you're BASTARD people! That's what you are! You're just bastard people! And I'm goin' home and I'm gonna... I'm gonna BITE MY PILLOW, that's what I'm gonna do!" All that anger. All that rage. Plus, Corky buys his wife's clothes. Oh Corky, don't hide it. We know. We know.
Parker Posey as Libby Mae Brown: I have been to the South. I have met girls like Libby Mae Brown. In fact, I may have even met her at the local Southern D.Q. Also, she inspires my own Southern lilt. I just wanna cog to the D.Q. and have a Coke with her and look at an atlas, ya know?
Eugene Levy as Dr. Allan Pearl: Awkward yet confident, Dr. Allan Pearl has no idea how innately awkward and uncomfortable he is. "People say, 'You must have been the class clown.' And I say, 'No, I wasn't. But I sat next to the class clown, and I studied him.'"
And, oh my, Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara as Ron and Sheila: Their rendition of "Midnight At The Oasis" was, shall we say, MEMORABLE. Oh, and they're "bi-coastal", you know, "if you consider the Mississippi River one of the coasts."
Here's the thing. We all know these people, these characters actually exist IN REAL LIFE.
If you don't know anyone like this, then you do not live life in real life. Or you have not lived in a small town, and hitherhencetofore you have not lived life in real life.
Finally, a movie with characters I can personally relate to. A misfit group of hopefuls making the most of a "desperate" circumstance. Misfits who really see themselves as stars. If ever I can relate, it is to the characters of Waiting For Guffman. Bravo, my waiters for Guffman. Don't give up hope. Press on. Fame will come, even if only in one's mind.--Jennyonthespot
1. This Is Spinal Tap
I'm a big fan of comedies. I'm especially into comedy that is conveyed through music. That being the case, there's no way that I couldn't LOVE This Is Spinal Tap.
When the movie first hit the theaters, I unfortunately didn't see it. Several of my friends did, though, and they raved about it. One of them played the soundtrack record for me and I immediately went out an bought it. Yeah, I said record. Really, that's the only way to own this soundtrack. The LP is housed in the same plain black cover as the album the band is promoting in the movie ("Smell the Glove").
I finally got around to seeing the movie when it came out on video tape, and it lived up to the high expectations that hearing the songs had set. What makes the movie so brilliant is that everyone plays the thing totally straight. If you didn't know the whole thing was fake, you just might buy into it. The characters, although ridiculous, somehow come off as natural. This is probably because (from what I've heard) most of the dialog in the film was ad-libbed. Who knew that Michael McKean, best known at the time for playing Lenny on Laverne And Shirley, was a comic genius? And that he could write and play music! (All of the actors actually performed the songs.) This was also before anyone had really heard of Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest, and when Rob Reiner was best known for his acting roles, most notably Mike "Meathead" Stivic on All In The Family. This Is Spinal Tap was his first big directing gig, but he would go on to direct several of my favorite comedies including The Sure Thing and When Harry Met Sally.
This Is Spinal Tap is one of those movies that I never get tired of watching. I nearly wore out my (pirated) tape copies, and when the DVD became available I jumped at it. If you've never watched the DVD, you're in for a treat. The special features include a deleted footage reel that is almost as long as the movie--it's like getting a second mockumentary for free! And, even better, there's a feature-length commentary track for the original film that is done by McKean, Shearer, and Guest in character as David St. Hubbins, Derek Smalls, and Nigel Tufnel. I don't normally watch films all the way through with the commentary track on, but this commentary track is so funny it will have you in tears. It brings a fresh new level of comedy to a movie that, even on its own, is as funny today as it was in 1984.
(If you want to add even more humor to your Spinal Tap viewing experience, watch the REAL documentary The Song Remains the Same. It's eye-opening--and hilarious--to see that Spinal Tap is, in part, based on Led Zeppelin.)
The greatest thing for Spinal Tap fans is that the "band" hasn't gone away. They have shown up in a couple of reunion movies and television appearances. In 2000, they released a CD called Break Like The Wind, and last year, they released Back From The Dead, a CD featuring re-recorded versions of all of the movie songs (including two re-imagined versions--a reggae version of "Listen To The Flower People" and a funk version of "Sex Farm") and several new tunes. Most of the songs from Back From The Dead were also released as downloads for the Rock Band video game. (It was my best Rock Band moment ever when I performed "Stonehenge" for the first time.)
There have been other films that followed in the footsteps of This is Spinal Tap, but this is the mockumentary that paved the way for all the others that followed. It cranks awesome and funny up to 11.--Dave