Best In Show review

:. Director: Christopher Guest
:. Starring: Jay Brazeau, Parker Posey
:. Running Time: 1:30
:. Year: 2000
:. Country: USA

Best in Show takes a long, funny look at those who take themselves way too seriously. Here, it's 9 people who populate the dog show world along with their prized pooches. Great performances full of comedic energy are what make this film.

Mockumentarist Christopher Guest, creator of This Is Spinal Tap & Waiting for Guffman, has given the actors the run of the place. There was no script, and what comes out is hilarity to the fullest degree. Their adlibs and realistic infatuations push this movie into snorts and giggles. There are a few awkward moments, to be sure, but much more appreciated is a film where not every gesture, pause, or look is scripted to the tenth degree.

The plot is fairly concrete: the movie follows the lives of 5 dogs and their owners as they proceed to the Mayflower Dog Show in Philadelphia. The dogs may be pedigreed, but the owners share the same demented, monomaniacal lineage: to win.

Without further ado, the owners:

Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock play Meg and Hamilton Swan, two high voltage yuppies (whom you hope will electrocute themselves) fortunate enough to have been "raised amongst catalogues" who met at neighboring Starbucksā€˜. They are seeing a doggie therapist because they fear their Weimaraner Beatrice has been traumatized after witnessing their kinky coitus (which, after watching them, is more than understandable) Their aggression towards others and each other contrasts well with the helplessness of Gerry Fleck (the brilliant Eugene Levy), husband of Cookie Fleck (Catherine O'Hara). They are forever running into his wife's former flames- she doesn't remember them, but they remember her and have no qualms about sharing, in excruciating detail, all of Cookie's steamy prowess in front of her husband. Their terrier Winky is the apple of their eye, and they've composed little songs just for her.

Harlan Pepper (Christopher Guest), a bait shop owner from Pine Nut, North Carolina, owns Herbert the bloodhound. Harlan is not just a bait shop owner, but a ventriloquist with a dream as well. Guest's performance is uncanny: he even seems like a bloodhound.

Very openly gay Scott (Michael Higgins) and his partner, subtle Stefan ( played by Michael McKean who asks "We'll be gone for 48 hours. Do you really need 6 kimonos?") are out to win with their dolled up Shih-Tzu, Miss Agnes. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Scott can do a little showing off himself during the show by looking like a bell hop out of a Tim Burton movie. The competitors are rounded out by Sheri Ann Cabot, a somewhat tarnished trophy wife of a geezer, who owns Rhapsody in White, a poodle whose trainer is manly Christy Cummings (she cracks the whip and runs a magazine called American Bitch.).

The dog show antics and tension are offset perfectly by Buck Laughlin (the hilarious Fred Willard), who makes moronic, inappropriate and always creepily lurid comments during the show while his partner, sophisticated dog show expert Trevor Beckwith (Jim Piddock), helplessly listens on.

Guest pokes fun at the seriousness of people who are so caught up in something that they can't possibly find any humor in it. A commentary on obsession is made, but no one is ever ridiculed. There's no meanness here, and that's the charm. The rare oddities here are the best. Lest we forget, we all have our foibles.

  Anji Milanovic

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