Waiting for Guffman - * * 1/2*

Waiting for Guffman is a sharp satire of small town life and pageantry. The small town of Blaine, Missouri, is celebrating its sesquicentennial anniversary, and the film covers, in a mock documentary style, the production of a pageant in celebration of the town’s history, Red White and Blaine. Producing the play are Corky St. Clair (Christopher Guest), the effeminate off-off-off-Broadway producer who has returned to his hometown of Blaine to be the drama teacher at Blaine High. Assisting him is Blaine High’s music teacher (Bob Balaban) who is somewhat jealous that Corky has stolen his spotlight. In the varied cast are Ron and Shelia Albertson (Fred Willard and Catherine O’Hara), Blaine’s outgoing travel agents, Dr. Allan Pearl (Eugene Levy), a somewhat meek dentist, and Libby Mae Brown (Parker Posey), a habitual Dairy Queen employee. The film gets plenty of laughs from its portrayals of small town life and lots of little character details. Unfortunately, by the time the actual production rolls around, Waiting for Guffman seems to lose steam. The play itself is rather repetitive of what we just saw before, and doesn’t have the comic energy of the rest of the film. However, the film comes back to life again during its coda. Christopher Guest, who also directed and co-wrote the film, is a hoot as the flaming Corky, and the supporting cast does a fine job picking apart the details of small town life. Overall, the film could have used a bit of fine tuning, but it has several good moments in its setup, and good humor throughout.

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