Blaine, Missouri, may be small, but Corky St. Clair (Christopher Guest) always dreams big. Determined to get back to the lights of Broadway, he’s created Red, White and Blaine, a musical celebration of the burg’s 150th anniversary.
Christopher Guest was one of the co-writers of This Is Spinal Tap, the 1984 mock-documentary about a failing rock group; with Waiting For Guffman, Guest turns his satirical focus on small town America, on Blaine, Missouri, and the approaching celebrations of Blaine's 150th anniversary.
Guest himself stars as Corky St Clair, a would-be broadway director who's ended up teaching drama in Blaine. Corky has been commissioned to dramatise the history of Blaine in a show. From the auditions, Corky ends up with local jewish dentist Alan Pearl (Eugene Levy), Ron and Sheila Albertson, travel agents who've never left town – they're played by Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara – and local dairy queen worker Libby Mae Brown, played by Parker Posey.
Much of Waiting For Guffman is hilarious, but it's not a gag film as such; the humour is based on the documentary feel and the sly irony which permeates throughout. It says heaps for the actors in the film that they're convincing as amateurs – but there are a couple of drawbacks to Waiting For Guffman.
Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy, who co-wrote the screenplay, have portrayed Corky with a touch of cliche and caricature which is a shame, a little bit less would have been more; and there's entirely too much fondness for the characters for my taste, which shows with the film's finale. Guest seems to end up endorsing small town values in a sentimental way; not a satisfying finish for a satire, but so much of the film is thoroughly enjoyable.