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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Mighty Wind includes sexual humor with references to the adult film industry, homosexuality, and a sex-change operation. One character starts cross-dressing and others practice a silly religion based on colors. Language is pretty mild, and while these mockumentary subjects can be hilariously absurd, there's nothing mean-spirited in the comedy; a real love of folk music shines through.
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What's the story?
A MIGHTY WIND is a mockumentary about a very diverse, but earnest and enthusiastic group of people who share a passion that involves performing in front of an audience. PBN (a stand-in for PBS) is going to broadcast a special concert in memory of Irving Steinbloom, a man who was instrumental in the careers of '60s folk musicians. The groups who will participate are a trio called The Folksmen (Spinal Tap alums Christoper Guest, who also co-wrote and directed, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer), a once-married duo called Mitch and Mickey (co-screenwriter Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara) and the relentlessly perky Main Street Singers -- now called the New Main Street Singers because only one of the original group is still participating. This return to the spotlight after so many years creates all kinds of traumas and challenges.
Is it any good?
Guest movies always get better on the second viewing, and this one may need three, as its best moments are its subtlest. The fabulously constructed songs, for instance, are just one tweak away from the music of the Hootenanny era, where suburban kids sang folk songs written by slaves and hobos so they could feel more "authentic."
There are wonderfully choice moments, such as the riffs by Fred Willard about his brief stint on a sitcom and Ed Begley Jr.'s Yiddish-peppered discussion of putting the broadcast deal together. Steinbloom's son (Bob Balaban) is so obsessed with the details of the event that he literally can't see the forest for the trees -- he interrupts the live broadcast to warn the audience in the theater to be careful not to get scratched by the twigs in the floral arrangements. The reconstruction of the historical material is devilishly meticulous, well worth hitting the pause button.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the unusual way that Guest and Levy work. They set out the broad outlines of the story and then invite their actors to improvise their parts. How does that make the final version of the movie different from most?
Families can also talk about the performers who inspired this movie, like the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Joan Baez. What was it that brought folk music to the forefront in the early 1960s?
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