This Is Spinal Tap Will Get a Sequel 40 Years Later, Reuniting Rob Reiner, Michael McKean, Christopher Guest & Harry Shearer

Fans of James Cameron’s Avatar are express­ing aston­ish­ment that its long-expect­ed sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, will have tak­en thir­teen years to get to the­aters. That delay, of course, is noth­ing next to the 35 years that sep­a­rat­ed Blade Run­ner and Blade Run­ner 2049, or the 36 between Top Gun and Top Gun: Mav­er­ick, which comes out next month. But the recent­ly announced sequel to This Is Spinal Tap tops them all: “Spinal Tap II will see Rob Rein­er return as both film-mak­er on and off the screen along with Michael McK­ean, Har­ry Shear­er, and Christo­pher Guest,” writes the Guardian’s Ben­jamin Lee. “The film will be released in 2024 on the 1984 orig­i­nal’s 40th anniver­sary.”

Crit­ics praised This Is Spinal Tap back in 1984, but it took time to become a revered clas­sic of the impro­vised-mock­u­men­tary genre. In fact that genre had­n’t exist at all, which result­ed in some view­ers not quite get­ting the joke. “When the film first came out, we showed it in Dal­las and peo­ple came up to me and said, why would you make a movie about a band nobody’s ever heard of?” says direc­tor Rob Rein­er. “And one that’s so bad?”

Or as Christo­pher Guest remem­bers a cou­ple girls at the con­ces­sion counter observ­ing: “These guys are so stu­pid.” The befud­dle­ment extend­ed even to col­lab­o­ra­tors in the film­mak­ing process: “I don’t under­stand this,” said cin­e­matog­ra­ph­er Peter Smok­ler, who’d worked on the Alta­mont doc­u­men­tary Gimme Shel­ter. “This isn’t fun­ny. This is exact­ly what they do.”

Such reac­tions pay indi­rect but great trib­ute to the painstak­ing craft and obser­va­to­ry wit of Spinal Tap’s cre­ators. Those cre­ators — Rein­er, Guest, Michael McK­ean, and Har­ry Shear­er — tell these sto­ries in the Today inter­view above, con­duct­ed in 2019 to mark This Is Spinal Tap’s 35th anniver­sary. In that time they’d occa­sion­al­ly reunit­ed as Spinal Tap for live per­for­mances and real albums, the last of which came out in 2009. Per­haps that’s kept them ready to get back into char­ac­ter, pitch-per­fect Eng­lish accents and all, and put on — as they’ll be forced to in a plot shaped by real­is­tic-sound­ing music-indus­try vagaries — one last con­cert. But like any belat­ed sequel, it brings pro­por­tion­al­ly inflat­ed fan expec­ta­tions: specif­i­cal­ly, about whether they’ll be able to go up to twelve.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Ori­gins of Spinal Tap: Watch the 20 Minute Short Film Cre­at­ed to Pitch the Clas­sic Mock­u­men­tary

The Spinal Tap Stone­henge Deba­cle

Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel Pro­motes World’s Largest Online Gui­tar Les­son

Ian Rub­bish (aka Fred Armisen) Inter­views the Clash in Spinal Tap-Inspired Mock­u­men­tary

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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