A MIGHTY WIND
movie trailer (apple.com - quicktime)
NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by mklively who tells us that "A MIGHTY WIND is a "mockumentary" in the tradition of THIS IS SPINAL TAP and BEST IN SHOW, with nearly everybody from BEST IN SHOW along for the ride. A MIGHTY WIND takes a gentle poke at folk music and musicians; I thought it was a cute story."
"Since the movie quickly jumps around from scene to scene quite a bit, it will be difficult to provide as accurate a summary as one would for a regular film (the scenes I describe might not be in the correct order), but I'll do my best. Throughout the film the characters are interviewed, often with hilarious results, and "old" film clips and photo albums of the groups are shown to authenticate the feel of the 60s folk era."
A MIGHTY WIND opens with a newscast obituary for one Irving Thornbloom, a talent agent best known for managing three popular folk groups in the 1960s: The Main Street Singers, The Folksmen (Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, and Christopher Guest), and Mitch and Mickey (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara). Black and white films clips are shown of all three acts.
Cut to the office of Jonathan Thornbloom (Bob Balaban), who is on the phone organizing a tribute event for his father. His idea is to get all three acts together for a performance at Town Hall in New York City. Two of the three acts are immediately signed, but the lone holdout is Mitch, who needs some cajoling.
Cut to a reunion barbecue of The Folksmen, all of whom are much older now and lacking in hair (a hairpiece McKean wears is instantly noticeable).
The three reminisce about their career and are shown singing their signature tune, "Eat at Joe's," on a show called "Hoot Nite." What's noticable about this song is that towards the end Harry Shearer sings a deep bass (important).
Cut to George Menschell (Paul Dooley), co-founder of the Main Street Singers, who talks about the group over still shots and film clips. He reveals how another founding member left to open a porno shop in San Francisco (somewhat important) and his life since the group disbanded.
Cut to Mickey in her home, reminiscing about singing with Mitch (again, more clips). Their signature tune was called "Kiss at the End of the Rainbow," and towards the end of the song they kiss. A rose is onstage on a stool next to them (important). Interviews with others familiar with the duo fill in on how the couple disbanded (Mitch was said to have gone off the deep end during a recording session, and the two had not spoken since).
Cut to The New Main Street Singers, a new group formed under Menschell, performing at a Florida theme park to a scant audience in the backdrop of a rollercoaster. All members are wearing perky yellow and blue outfits. Two members, Terry and Laurie Bohner (pronounced Boner), talk about how they became involved with the group. (A hilarious scene - Terry recounts being locked up in his room with a Main Street Singers album and even performing their songs with cardboard cutout members; Laurie reveals her past working at the SF porn shop as an "actress" and how one role where she played a ukelele in a film called "Not So Tiny Tim" got her into the group). Member Sissy Know (Parker Posey) is also interviewed during a trip to an elementary school; she comes off as overly perky.
Cut to Jonathan, who has finally managed to get Mitch to agree to the show. Mitch is soon debarking a Greyhound, looking desheveled and out of sorts, as he meets up with Mickey and her husband, who sells cathater equipment. (note: Mitch goes through the whole movie with wide eyes, halting speech and a loud voice, almost like a zombie, with funny results). Scenes follow where Mickey's husband shows Mitch his model train village, then at Mitch's hotel he is trying to practice but the couple in the next room is having very loud, wall-banging sex.
Scenes follow featuring each of the three acts preparing for the show. The Folksmen rehearse, arguing over whether their clothes will look too retro for the television audience; the current manager of the New Main Street Singers, Mike LaFontaine, is interviewed (Fred Willard, first seen in a very bright shirt). LaFontaine is a former sitcom actor whose signature line was "Wha' Happened!" He is a very boisterous man who constantly laughs at his own jokes, and is always trying to integrate the "Wha' Happened!" line into the folk group's act. Terry and Laurie are interviewed about their unusual religious beliefs, which are based upon the use of colors (hilarious); Mitch and Mickey rehearse the Rainbow song but do not kiss as they normally did. When it appears Mitch is about to freak out, Jonathan visits the hotel and has to endure the couple next door as well.
Jonathan meets with his siblings Elliott and Naomi to discuss the tribute. Elliott is not as enthusastic as the others about it because he doesn't like folk music. Jonathan also meets with Lars Olfen (Ed Begley), the head of the Public Broadcasting Network, to talk about the show. Olfen is very enthusiastic about the show and gives it a prime slot, which is good for the network since the folk acts will attract their target audience of older people. Olfen is interviewed about his youth in Sweden and his fondness for folk music; he uses a lot of Yiddish in his speech.
Slowly the tribute is coming together. The stage manager of Town Hall is interviewed about the show, and he is so excited he breaks into song himself. The Folksmen are seen driving through New York in a station wagon and getting lost. Elsewhere the deputy mayor of NYC holds a small ceremony declaring "Folk Music Day." LaFontaine accepts the plaque and proceeds to launch into his act, finishing with a dirty joke.
As Town Hall prepares for the show Jonathan is bothering the stage manager about the plant decor (he's worried people will have their eyes poked out by the apple blossoms) and the stage (he's worried the large banjo onstage isn't "third-dimensional" enough. The stage manager ends up slapping him upside the head.
The night of the show (which is live), Town Hall is packed, and all three acts are backstage. Olfen watches the show from the production booth, making comments about camerawork. Mitch decides to go out for air and wanders off into Times Square; Terry and Laurie engage in some pre-show ritual; and The Folksmen pace nervously. Jonathan comes onstage to applause and warns everybody about the plants in the lobby, then introduces the New Main Street Singers, who launch into the song The Folksmen had planned to sing first. They are outraged and argue over whether or not to sing it anyway. When they do go on, however, they launch into "Eat at Joe's" instead. As it's getting closer for Mitch and Mickey to come on, Mickey and Jonathan realize he hasn't come back yet (Mitch is shown staring at the large screen in Times Square). As The Folksmen are about to leave the stage, Jonathan waves from the wings for them to sing more. Harry Shearer then launches into a long introduction to a song about the Spanish Civil War, but before they can sing a stagehand comes on to say Mitch has been found (he was looking for a rose for Mickey). Shearer says, "Goodnight!" and The Folksmen leave. Mitch and Mickey are introduced and they sing their signature song. The other two acts, who were in their dressing rooms, all head for the wings to watch. At the appropriate moment in the song, Mitch and Mickey pause and kiss. The other acts join them onstage for the final number, "A Mighty Wind." The show is a success.
Six months later, we see what has become of the acts. LaFontaine has inked the New Main Street Singers to a sitcom, "Supreme Folk." The band are Supreme Court justices by day, and a folk act at night who lives in the same house. Mickey is now singing at medical shows in her husband's cathater booth. Mitch, it appears, is holed up in an apartment writing poetry. The Folksmen are seen playing in a casino; Harry Shearer is now dressed as a woman (it's not made clear if he's a transvestite or a transexual). They are singing "Eat at Joe's", and Shearer is still singing bass.
Spoiled by Kathryn Lively - author of SAINTS PRESERVE US (Wings ePress, 2003)
Read the first two chapters for free at http://www.kathrynlively.com
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