Waiting for Guffman

Movie review by
Ellen Dendy, Common Sense Media
Waiting for Guffman Movie Poster Image
Fab small-town spoof; subtle humor may bore kids.
  • R
  • 1997
  • 84 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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.


One mention of penile reduction surgery.


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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byMeerkat.dog.yo December 27, 2018

Mockumentary OK for older tweens despite R rating

It is important to note that despite its R rating, Waiting for Guffman is a quirky mockumentary that any mature tween would be able to see. Waiting for Guffman... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 29, 2020

This should not be rated R

Although little kids might be bored with this film, it honestly does not deserve an R rating! I only remember two f-bombs being used, both in a reference to the... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bytheatrekid July 12, 2020

Pretty Funny

This was a pretty funny movie and weirdly relatable. It is quite comedic and also honest.

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?

From Blaine's bear-fighting founder to the town's extraterrestrial connections, WAITING FOR GUFFMAN is an enjoyably 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.

Talk to your kids 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

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