Archived: Review: Best In Show (2000) - archived

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From the genius brain that is Christopher Guest who brought us “This Is Spinal Tap“, “A Mighty Wind” and “Waiting For Guffman” comes “Best In Show” which like the others, is a mockumentary focusing on the Mayflower Dog Show and both its human and animal participants.

The characters are as eclectic as you’re used to from Guest and the absence of script. Actors are given an overview of the plot and some notes on their characters and the rest is improvised. The characters of Meg and Hamilton Swan (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock) were devised from the words “catalogue people” that Guest wrote down on a scrap of paper years before. Posey even went so far as to get real braces for her character to wear during filming.

In true documentary style we watch as the contestants prepare for the show, the setup of the auditorium and the aftermath, each with talking head character interviews and lots of shots of the beautiful dogs. By far the standout performance has to go to Fred Willard who plays the commentator at the event, his inanity puts him out of his depth but provides some hilarious material.

The real winners here though are the animals, Guest says there was only one bark that wasn’t on cue throughout the entire filming, which puts that “never work with children or animals” logic to shame. The dogs are here to play the straight man to the humans eccentric personalities and they do it with style and provide a constant barrage of “awww” moments, the most I found coming from Harlan Peppers bloodhound.

Whilst not as refined as other Guest mockumentaries this certainly doesn’t suffer.. Jokes aren’t as written on the wall as say ‘Tap’ but the humour comes from knowing that you’ve seen these sorts of people before, there are people this crazy out in the world and the cast nail their imperfections down perfectly. Fans of Guest will admire, fans of dogs will adore, everyone in-between may struggle to understand the concept but should enjoy the ride.

Archived: Review: Best In Show (2000) - archived
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