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USA 2000
Directed by
Christopher Guest
90 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Best In Show

Christopher Guest ‘s Best in Show, co-written by the director with co-star Eugene Levy, has a field day with the terminally-blinkered world of people who show dogs competitively. The film focusses on a handful of contestants: North Carolina fishing store owner, Harlan Pepper (played by Guest) and his bloodhound; Gerry and Cookie Fleck from Florida (Levy and Catherine O'Hara) and their Norwich terrier Winky; an infantile obsessive-compulsive couple (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock) and their weimaraner; a botoxed trophy wife (Jennifer Coolidge) and the woman (Jane Lynch) she has hired to prepare her standard poodle, as well as a gay couple (Michael McKean and Michael Higgins) who dote on their twin Shih Tzus.

Although usually referred to as a mockumentary, the genre which Guest himself pioneered as the writer of This Is Spinal Tap in 1984), from the get-go the exaggerations make it clear that what we see is not reportage (Levy’s character, for instance has, literally, two left feet), however in part the fun comes from the fact that it is ultimately grounded in some very real neurotically self-absorbed, even dysfunctional, behaviour.

This kind of absurdist parody has limited mileage and although the character quirks become a little repetitive as the film rolls on the fun quotient is boosted by addition of Fred Willard as the particularly obtuse host of a live broadcast of the show.  

FYI: A good number of the cast had appeared in Guest's stylistically similar, albeit less absurd Waiting for Guffman (1996) which the director also wrote with Levy.




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