It’s time once again for the Mayflower Kennel Club competition, the Super Bowl of dog shows. Dogs and their owners come from all over the country to compete, and hopefully take home the top honor—to be named Best In Show.
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This is likely Christopher Guest's most accessible mockumentary, with a bevy of adorable dogs in front of the camera and a significantly less amount of 'cringe' compared to "Waiting for Guffman's" "Gummo"-esque cast of outcasts. But that's no knock - while it may lack a certain subversive edge, it's no less hilarious or charming. Special mention must be made of the brilliant Fred Willard as the film's comedic MVP.
Each time I watch it I have a new favorite performance, and this time it was Jennifer Coolidge, who is unbelievably intelligent at playing dumb and makes you feel for her character, trapped in by wealth and looking for escape in dog shows and her "art." Characteristically, Guest has fun with the characters and paints them as broad comedic types, not resorts to mean-spiritedness to get a laugh.
For a cultural juggernaut - such an outrageous level of influence on 21st century American comedy (and this one most of all because many characters receive the redemptive arch that cuts away the bite of so much American satire these days) -- Best in Show feels unassuming. Even humble. But no, this has designs on the world. We can talk about how evil those are, but it's hard to deny it doesn't perfectly execute.
I laugh more, notice more nuances (if not exactly subtleties), admire more in both performance/characterization and montage each time I watch this one, which at first seemed to me markedly less comically rewarding than WAITING FOR GUFFMAN
Probably the funniest of the Christopher Guest movies, with too many brilliant performances to count. What's done to the characters can be disturbingly mean-spirited, but you have to expect that from a Guest film, and until the epilogue (which is just plain sadistic in some cases) it all rings true. Props to that poor Weimeraner for putting up with such awful (if hilarious) emotional abuse from 'mommy and daddy.'
This is the kind of movie that makes you laugh before you know you're laughing, subtle and silly, the characters are beautifully flawed and eccentric and every bit like the idiosyncratic community that populates ever shrinking circles of theater devotees. Guest is a terribly underrated actor director and writer. Oh, and he's a musician I hear and a composer!