Crank it all the way to "11." A catch-phrase that has its own Wikipedia page; in fact, it was entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2002. It's an elegant shorthand for pushing the volume (or whatever else you're talking about) to its limit. It's but one piece of pop culture that owes its status in the zeitgeist to This is Spinal Tap.
Originally released 25 years ago, the "rockumentary/mockumentary" (being released on Blu-ray by MGM Home Entertainment July 28) follows the fictional English band Spinal Tap on its US tour in support of its new album Smell the Glove. Director Rob Reiner (also playing documentary filmmaker Marty DiBergi), sits in on sessions, interviewing and hanging out with the fictitious heavy metal band, including Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), lead singer David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), bassist Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer).
Always following the trend, from their earliest days as Mersey-Beat wannabes to psychedelic folk-rockers to the early-'80s reincarnation of the Heavy Metal headbangers, Spinal Tap circa 1983 is a group of middle-aged rockers on their last breath. DiBergi's film tracks the band's "big-splash" entry back into the concert-tour market by limousine to their final, rather humiliating, concert just before they decide call it a day.
The brilliance of the movie itself lies in its realism. Creating a broad and deep history for Spinal Tap (complete with "old" interview tapes, music videos and press conferences), the writers have hit every note authentically. Guest, McKean and Shearer (with Reiner) wrote as well as perform all the music themselves, blurring the lines between real and fictional. With only a bare-bones outline of a script and lots of a certain genius for this sort of comedy, the entire movie has an improvisational vibe and the feel of a real documentary—which, in a sense—it is.
Is Spinal Tap a real (albeit satirical) band, despite its fictional origins? The band was created for the film, which then created a real band, with real concerts, real record releases and a life of 25 years and counting, including a performance in 2007's Live Earth Concert. Quite an achievement for a "fake" rock band.