Waiting for Guffman

  • Review Date: November 8, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1997
  • Running Time: 84 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Fab small-town spoof; subtle humor may bore kids.
  • Review Date: November 8, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1997
  • Running Time: 84 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The good: small-town civic pride, working toward a goal. The not-so-good: comedic stereotypes of Jews, homosexuals (one character is a walking gay stereotype), and Native Americans.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

One mention of penile reduction surgery.

Language

A handful of bad words ("f--k," "bastard," "ass").

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some characters smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this mockumentary contains some strong language, but the number of times bad and borderline-bad words are used can be counted on one hand. Aside from a little innuendo and a brief discussion of one character's penile reduction surgery, this lighthearted comedy avoids sexual references/visuals. That said, the main character gives off a stereotypical homosexual vibe, but his orientation and intimate relationships are never brought into play (except when the character divulges that he enjoys picking out fabulous pantsuits for his wife). Parents should also know that some characters smoke and drink. Set in a small Midwestern town and heavy with positive themes like patriotism, civic pride, and strengthening the community, this comedy is relatively tame for its R rating. Even so, younger kids may not enjoy or understand the film's mix of subtle and campy humor.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The cast and crew of a small-town theater dream of hitting it big on Broadway in this campy mockumentary directed by Christopher Guest. Set in freakishly friendly Blaine, Missouri, the story follows theater director Corky St. Claire (Guest) as he creates a homespun production in honor of the town's 150th anniversary. Likeable St. Claire -- who appears to be gay but not "out" -- meets with the city council, gossips about potential casting decisions, and auditions a long line of Blaine's quirkiest locals. In the hilarious audition scenes, perky travel agents Ron and Sheila Albertson (Fred Willard and Catherine O'Hara) sing and dance their way into the production with a moving rendition of "Midnight at the Oasis," deadpan dentist Allan Pearl (Eugene Levy) lands a part by channeling his Yiddish ancestors, and Dairy Queen princess Libby Mae Brown (Parker Posey) relies on a slightly seductive song and impressive Rockette kicks to charm her way into a leading role. Rehearsals are barely underway when St. Claire gets word that a Broadway producer plans to attend Blaine's historical musical. With no time to waste, the amateur thespians scramble to turn their sloppy production into serious theater -- but will their dreams of Broadway come true? Or will they be stuck in Blaine forever?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

From Blaine's bear-fighting founder to the town's extraterrestrial connections, WAITING FOR GUFFMAN is a spoofy look at a small town and its oddball citizens. Guest's faux documentary approach gives viewers an amusing "fly on the wall" experience, and while the storyline is mostly tongue in cheek, the amateur musical feels authentic with its rickety sets and downright hilarious lyrics that only the locals can appreciate.

There's plenty to like about Guffman, but parents should be advised that, like Guest's other mockumentaries, this film is built around droll, quirky humor that may escape some kids -- especially the younger set, who may not get the eccentric, small town characters and will probably find the storyline a bit slow. But for those who do enjoy quirky little comedies, there's even more here than the clever script and hilarious performances; Waiting for Guffman in its own way emphasizes positive messages, including civic pride and working together toward a common goal.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why it's important for a community to remember and celebrate town history. What did the community and actors gain from putting on the production in celebration of the town's 150th anniversary? Why was putting on the show still an important thing for the characters to do, even though they suffered a disappointment when the curtain went down? Families can also talk about the format of the "mockumentary." What can the filmmakers get away with saying and doing because the movie is a spoof?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 31, 1997
DVD release date:August 21, 2001
Cast:Catherine O'Hara, Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy
Director:Christopher Guest
Studio:Warner Home Video
Genre:Comedy
Run time:84 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:brief strong language.

This review of Waiting for Guffman was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bythebaloob123 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

A Film every Child should See!

This is a great film, that is fine for any age. I think that most parent would like pause the film right at the begining of the audition scene, and have a talk about swearing. Because one character (humorusly) uses 3 uses of f**k. Some other humors line with swearing are: "You're BASTARD people!" and "I HATE YOU and I hate you ASS-FACE" there are some sexual references that will fly right over little kids heads. The real good thing about this movie is the social behavior even though many of the characters are unlikeable they all groupe together and put on a play that, although it's not great, makes them all closer together. A great family film with some good "disscussion points"!
Kid, 12 years old July 26, 2011
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

Mistake

WRONG! The age sould be: age 17
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written bymilograamans August 2, 2009
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
There is a little bit of language etc., but I can honestly say that when I saw this a year or so ago, about half of it went over my head.

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