Movies I've Seen A Million Times
1:08 pm
Sun August 5, 2012

The Movie Jay Chandrasekhar's 'Seen A Million Times'

Originally published on Sun August 5, 2012 5:46 pm

The weekends on All Things Considered series Movies I've Seen A Million Times features filmmakers, actors, writers and directors talking about the movies that they never get tired of watching.

For writer-director Jay Chandrasekhar, whose credits include Super Troopers, Beerfest and The Babymakers, which opened in theaters this weekend, the movie he could watch a million times is Rob Reiner's This Is Spinal Tap. "The accents are flawless, the music is really good," Chandrasekhar says.


Interview Highlights

On why he loves Fred Willard in the film

"Fred Willard goes on the most amazing riff, he lays out six or seven deadpan jokes in a row. He could have stopped anywhere in that string of jokes and you'd say, 'Yeah, that's the joke,' but he ends with, "I'm joking of course," and it's just, I don't know, I just love it."

On how This Is Spinal Tap influenced him

"Spinal Tap influenced me I think specifically in making me really pay attention to tone. A lot of comedy films, there's the opinion, "Well, if it's funny, put it in." But I think you have to be more disciplined than that. I think in a film that's supposed to last an hour and a half, I think you have to really pay attention to what kind of movie you're making, what is the audience experiencing, and does this joke fit with this joke? So it requires that you monitor what jokes go in the movie and I think Rob Reiner and those guys really, really paid attention to it."




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Transcript

GUY RAZ, HOST:

All summer long on the program, we've been asking people who work in film to talk about the movie that changed their life, including this one from one of the men behind "Super Troopers."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

JAY CHANDRASEKHAR: Hi. My name's Jay Chandrasekhar, and I'm a writer/director. And the film I've chosen, which I have seen a million times, is "This is Spinal Tap," directed by Rob Reiner. And it stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THIS IS SPINAL TAP")

MICHAEL MCKEAN: (as David St. Hubbins) (Singing) You're hot. Take all we've got. Not a dry seat in the house.

CHANDRASEKHAR: You know, I first saw this film in the '80s when I was in college. I was one of two guys who had a VCR in my fraternity house. I would show up, and there would be a bunch of guys sitting in my room watching some movie. And so I watched "Spinal Tap," you know, hundreds of times.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THIS IS SPINAL TAP")

MCKEAN: (as David St. Hubbins) We are Spinal Tap from the U.K. You must be the U.S.A.

CHANDRASEKHAR: So the plot of "Spinal Tap" is it's sort of meant to be a classic rock documentary, or as Marty DiBergi says, a rockumentary.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THIS IS SPINAL TAP")

ROB REINER: (as Marty DiBergi) I wanted to capture the sights, the sounds, the smells of a hardworking rock band on the road.

CHANDRASEKHAR: And it's going to follow the American tour of what was at one point a bigger rock band, you know? And now they're sort of a little bit caught in a downslope.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THIS IS SPINAL TAP")

TONY HENDRA: (as Ian Faith) I have a small piece of bad news. The gig is cancelled. It says, Memphis show canceled due to lack of advertising funds.

CHANDRASEKHAR: The accents are flawless, the music is really good. The first song they ever play together, which is "All the Way Home," and they sing an a capella version of it...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THIS IS SPINAL TAP")

SPINAL TAP, ROCK BAND: (Singing) If she's not on the 5:19 then I'm going to know what sorrow means. And I'm going to cry, cry, cry all the way home. Dum, dum, dum, dum.

CHANDRASEKHAR: I mean, it's beautiful. I think it's as good as any of the bands that came out of England in the '60s.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THIS IS SPINAL TAP")

MCKEAN: (as David St. Hubbins) Fairly simple. There's about six words in the whole song.

REINER: (as Marty DiBergi) Sounds like a big hit.

MCKEAN: You know, we just repeat them over and over again.

CHANDRASEKHAR: My favorite scene when I first saw it - and it continues to be my favorite scene - it's David St. Hubbins' girlfriend, Jeanine, has taken over management of the band, and so this is sort of their first gig with her in charge. She ends up booking them on an Air Force base for an at ease weekend. And they show up at the Air Force base, and Fred Willard is the Air Force liaison.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THIS IS SPINAL TAP")

FRED WILLARD: (as Lt. Hookstratten) Fine. May I start by saying how thrilled we are to have you here? We are such fans of your music and all of your records.

HARRY SHEARER: (as Derek Smalls) That's great.

WILLARD: (as Lt. Hookstratten) I'm not speaking of yours personally but the whole genre of the rock and roll.

CHANDRASEKHAR: Fred Willard goes on the most amazing riff. He lays out six or seven deadpan jokes in a row, and he ends with...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THIS IS SPINAL TAP")

WILLARD: (as Lt. Hookstratten) These haircuts wouldn't pass military muster, believe me. Although I shouldn't talk, I - my hair's getting a little shaggy too. Better not get too close to you. They'll think I'm part of the band. I'm joking, of course. Shall we go in, and I'll show you around?

CHANDRASEKHAR: He could've stopped anywhere in that string of jokes, and you'd say, yeah, that's the joke. But he ends with: I'm joking, of course, and it's just - it's - I don't know. I just love it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THIS IS SPINAL TAP")

WILLARD: (as Lt. Hookstratten) And I just have one request. Would you play a couple of slow numbers so I can dance?

MCKEAN: (as David St. Hubbins) (Singing) Working on a sex farm, plowing through your bean field.

CHANDRASEKHAR: "Spinal Tap" influenced me, I think specifically in making me really try to pay attention to tone. A lot of comedy films, there's the opinion: Well, if it's funny, put it in. But I think you have to be more disciplined than that. I think in a film that's supposed to last an hour and a half, I think you have to really pay attention to what kind of movie you're making, what is the audience experiencing and does this joke fit with this joke?

So it requires that you monitor what jokes go in the movie. And I think Rob Reiner and those guys really, really paid attention to it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RAZ: That's writer/director Jay Chandrasekhar talking about the movie he could watch a million times "This is Spinal Tap." Chandrasekhar's new film, "The Babymakers," opened in theaters this weekend. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.