The music industry can occasionally be pompous, extravagant, vain and sometimes just plain weird, which makes it an ideal target to be mocked in spoof music documentaries, also known as ‘mockumentaries’.
You’ve probably already seen, or at least heard of, the most famous rock mockumentary of all, This is Spinal Tap, but you’ll be happy to know there are plenty more just like this seminal comedy. So have a look at our list of hilarious music mockumentaries – all these titles “go up to 11…”
This is Spinal Tap (1984)
The most famous rock mockumentary of all time. Marti DiBergi (Rob Reiner), a diehard fan of Spinal Tap, makes a fly-on-the-wall ‘documentary’ following the ludicrous British metal band’s American comeback tour. Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer brilliantly play dim-witted, cliched but hilarious rockstars in this satire of heavy metal excesses.
Director: Rob Reiner
I’m Still Here (2010)
Joaquin Phoenix plays himself (or let’s say, a version of himself) in this offbeat faux-documentary, charting the Hollywood actor’s plans to retire from acting and launch a new career as a hip hop artist. Yes, you read that right. So the film has us wondering, is it a self-indulgent stunt, or a clever satire on fame and self? It’s probably a bit of both!
Director: Casey Affleck
The Life of Rock with Brian Pern (2014)
Brian Pern (Simon Day) is one of the most influential musicians of his generation, first finding fame as lead singer of progressive rock group Thotch, before launching a solo career in which he invented world music. The very funny full series loosely follows and mocks the ever-more outlandish artistic career of Peter Gabriel of Genesis (who’s in on the joke and actually cameos in it).
Director: Rhys Thomas
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
After a childhood tragedy, Dewey Cox (John C.Reilly) pursues a musical career covering every rock cliche in the book – reinventing himself through many musical styles, becoming a drug addict, dealing with anger management issues, and trying to win the heart of his backing singer. It’s ridiculous, but it spoofs the rock star lifestyle to a tee.
Director: Jake Kasdan
Fear of a Black Hat (1993)
Sociologist Nina Blackburn (Kasi Lemmons) spends a year following spoof hip-hop artists Ice Cold (Rusty Cundieff), Tasty-Taste (Larry B. Scott) and Tone Def (Mark Christopher Lawrence), where every rap cliche in the book is captured on film: sex, sexism, guns, violence, bad language, rivalries with other rappers and of course, arguments among themselves. It’s the Spinal Tap of hip hop, and it’s brilliant.
Director: Rusty Cundieff
A Mighty Wind (2003)
Talking of Spinal Tap (again), Christopher Guest (who played guitarist Nigel Tufnel in Spinal Tap) writes, directs and stars in a very funny ‘folk version of Spinal Tap’, a mockumentary following three never-quite-famous folk bands, who are coming together for a memorial concert for their manager. But can the aged bands hold it together long enough to make the reunion a success?
Director: Christopher Guest
Brothers of the Head (2005)
In this dark comedy, conjoined twins Barry and Tom Howe (Harry and Luke Treadaway) find success as a ‘freakish’ 1970s rock ‘n’ roll act when a sleazy talent manager plucks them from obscurity. But as their fame grows, bringing drugs, alcohol and women, the brothers start to fall out – but how can you avoid each other when you’re literally joined at the hip?
Directors: Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008)
A both comical and touching documentary that follows Canadian heavy metal band Anvil, who were a massive influence on the likes of Metallica in the early 80s, before they dropped off into obscurity. But is Anvil a documentary or mockumentary? It’s hard to say, because despite being about a real band, it comes across as a spoof. With this deliberate blurring, we never truly know when to laugh or cry.
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)
Conner (Andy Samberg) and his friends Owen (Jorma Taccone) and Lawrence (Akiva Schaffer) once had huge success with their hip hop group, Style Boyz. After Conner leaves the band to launch a solo career, he employs a documentary crew to follow his every move, but when his second album flops, his supersized ego comes crashing down. The film perfectly skewers the shallowness of celebrity life.
Directors: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
You could say The Beatles’ debut film actually gave birth to the ‘mockumentary’ style of filmmaking. Capturing a spoofed-up ‘day in the life’ of John, Paul, George and Ringo as Beatlemania is in full swing, and despite being nearly 60 years old, the film is an absolute joy to watch, with, of course, a fantastic soundtrack by the Fab Four.
Director: Richard Lester
All You Need Is Cash (1978)
The mockumentary that spoofs the career of the Beatles, or as they’re known in the film, The Rutles. Eric Idle of Monty Python fame plays one of the mop-topped ‘Pre-Fab Four’ lads from Liverpool who conquer the world with hits such as ‘Cheese and Onions’, before their egos clash and the band implodes. Beatle George Harrison even turns up in a cameo.
Director: Gary Weis
BONUS: ‘The Comic Strip Presents’ Bad News Tour (1983)
It’s the grotty, low-budget precursor to ‘This is Spinal Tap’. A documentary crew follows heavy metal band Bad News as they embark on their tour around Britain, and despite their grand ideas, things constantly go wrong for the band (played by Rick Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Nigel Planer and Peter Richardson), such as their van breaking down or arguing at a motorway service service station about the cost of sausage and chips.
Director: Sandy Johnson
10 11 Great Spoof Music Documentaries
So there we have it, we’ve turned it up to 11 (finally) hopefully there’s something for everyone in our rundown. If there’s a title that you think should be on here, please let us know on our socials.
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