It feels like a really long time since Rob Reiner has directed a solid-gold classic, but his back catalogue is as strong as that of most any director you might mention. It could be argued that his best work and therefore his best years are behind him (indeed that could be argued for any number of directors who are currently on cruise control rather than stretching themselves), but he is still working and so might yet “do a Scorsese” and find his way back to former glory after a period in the wilderness.
As the ensuing list ably demonstrates, Reiner has covered a lot of ground, with comedy, romance, thriller and drama all finding space in the upper echelons of his resumé. What is also noteworthy is that a good number of his films are amongst the very finest of their type across the whole of film. There are perhaps better romantic comedies out there than When Harry Met Sally, but it is undeniably one of the best out there. There are possibly funnier comedies out there than Tap, but probably not.
Reiner’s output as director from 1984 to 1990 consists of Tap, The Sure Thing, Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally and Misery. If anyone can think of another director who has had that consistent a track record over six consecutive films, then hit back in the comments section below. Anyway, let’s crack on with some of Reiner’s best work. As always, feel free to disagree……………..
1. This Is Spinal Tap
This one goes up to 11. Two word review – s*** sandwich. It’s hard to dust for vomit. I think that the problem may have been, that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf. Alright? That tended to understate the hugeness of the object. That’s a beautiful piece, what’s it called? Lick my love pump. It’s like, none more black.
There is just so much to love in This Is Spinal Tap, whether it is endlessly re-quotable lines (check this out for the phenomenal hit rate of gags on show), sequences involving foil-wrapped vegetables or jammed stage pods. Much has been said about how painfully close to the bone it feels for people who are or have been in bands, but for everyone else it is just hilarious at every turn. Christopher Guest would go on to plough the mockumentary format for much of the rest of his directorial career to date (Best in Show is likely his personal high water mark), but Reiner got there first and this remains the apex of the sub-genre. Drop Dead Gorgeous on the big screen and everything from Parks and Recreation through The Office and Arrested Development on the small have picked up and run with the staples that Reiner established – awkward looks to camera, embarrassing pauses, characters you desperately want to meet in real life and laugh after laugh after laugh. This really is one of the best ways you could spend 90 minutes of your life.