Best in Show (2000)

Needs more dogs

An old review of mine, still feel the same way about the movie, but adjusted the rating slightly.

Brought to you by the same creative team that created Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show is a “mockumentary” of the dog shows that audiences everywhere seem to love. It shows you the lives of the dog’s owners and how they made the cut for the Mayflower Dog Show, an annual tradition that is eagerly looked forward to. Sadly, the main focus of the film is on the cast of humans and not the cast of dogs. Oh well, maybe someone will make that brilliant idea into an actual movie.

The inherent problem with the “mockumentary” genre is that despite how committed everyone is to making everything seem as realistic as possible, everything that’s shown seems to have a very staged, pre-conceived feel to it. Nothing that happens will strike you as completely surprising, and that’s simply because of the structure of the film in relation to the nature of the genre. The film doesn’t stray it’s focus from the main ensemble cast at all, meaning you can pretty much figure out for yourself how everyone’s going to place at the competition. Regular documentaries will actually give airtime to your regular everyday Joes, but not mockumentaries. Nooo that would disrupt the delicate comedic balance it attempts to maintain.

Well, I might be getting a little harsh there, considering this is my favourite of the current trilogy (which became four movies with the addition of For Your Considerationof Christopher Guest mockumentaries. I mean really, there’s no comparison between small-town community theatre, a celebration of folk music or dogs. Anyways, much like Guffman, Best In Show has an enormously talented ensemble cast, much of which is comprised of many of the same cast members as Guffman. Thankfully the additions of Jennifer Coolidge and the hilarious Jane Lynch didn’t upset any of the chemistry between everyone. The same can be said for Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins’ fantastically clichéd gay couple. I could have done without Will Sasso, though that usually goes without saying.

The cast completely buy into Guest’s project and deliver some truly fantastic and layered performances, mostly because these are characters that they’ve been given the briefest of outlines on, and just created themselves. Larry Miller’s role is once again far too brief, but it’s quite possibly the highlight of the movie for me. That is if Fred Willard didn’t completely steal the show with his commentating during the dog show. The best way to describe it is that it comes across as very Mystery Science Theatre 3000-esque, but with a much lower common denominator. It’s smart dumb, basically.

Guest’s movies will never be perfect, simply due to the limits of the genre he’s chosen / created for his pictures. Once again, there’s no charismatic host going along on the journey with us, guiding us through (mostly) small-town America. Guest’s role in the movie is much less overbearing than his Guffman role, but the tone of the movie can definitely have an “acquired taste” feel to it.

3.5 / 5


About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

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