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Best in Show (2000)

Art House & International and Comedy movie directed by Christopher Guest

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Be His Guest

  • Jul 16, 2003
Director and co-screenwriter Guest has been centrally involved with the creation of four of the best "mockumentaries": This Is Spinal Tap (1983), Waiting for Guffman (1996), Best in Show (2000), and A Mighty Wind (2003). The effectiveness of a mockumentary depends on several factors. First, the actors must "play it straight," as if unaware that they are spoofing anyone or anything. Fred Willard (Buck Laughlin), for example, in this film or Leslie Nielsen in Airplane! or as Frank Drebin in the Naked Gun series. Also, the material presented must be THAT close to the original as is indeed true of the music performed in A Mighty Wind. Finally, the objects of ridicule must in some way deserve it (e.g. Bob Balaban as Dr. Theodore W. Milbank III) but the humor must never be mean-spirited. Note Guest's treatment of the fact that Gerry Fleck (played with the straightest of faces by Eugene Levy) has -- literally -- two left feet.

In this film, Guest uses a familiar but effective strategy for the basis of his narrative: Select several individuals and follow their separate journeys to the same destination, in this case a dog show in Philadelphia. Harlan Pepper (Guest) and the Flecks (Levy and Catherine O'Hara) are among among those who have registered their dogs for competition in the annual and prestigious Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show in Philadelphia. Shrewdly, Guest and Levy have co-written a screenplay in which there is a wide and rich variety of people involved. One of the most conspicuous is Sherri Ann Cabot (Jennifer Coolidge), a statuesque and voluptuous bi-sexual, who attends the show with her ancient husband (Patrick Cranshaw), hoping that her poodle "Rhapsody in White" can win again. Sherri Ann is also accompanied by Christy Cummings (Jane Lynch), the dog's trainer/handler and Sherri Ann's lover. Meg and Michael Swan (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock) are also there with Beatrice, a Weimaraner who is almost (not quite) as neurotic as they are. Still another interesting couple consists of Scott Donlan (John Michael Higgins) and his life partner Stefan Vanderhoof (Michael McKean) who have entered their Shih Tzu "Miss Agnes" in the competition and expect her to win.

Many years ago, I first saw Fred Willard (with Martin Mull) on the television series Fernwood 2-Night. He recreates essentially the same role (pseudo-sophisticate dimwit) in this film as Buck Laughlin. He and Trevor Beckwith (Jim Piddock) provide commentary throughout the competition. Insofar as Beckwith is concerned, the chemistry between them could not be much worse. However, as a mockumentary requires, Laughlin is oblivious to that...and to just about everything else as he prattles and chortles along. Willard's is a stunning performance. What a treat it would be to eavesdrop on a conversation between Willard's Laughlin and Nielsen's Drebin.

This is film loses nothing even after being seen several times. In fact, I see something "new" each time I see it again. (For me, the same is also true of Young Frankenstein and The Birdcage.) Some of the scenes and some of the characters become even more hilarious. For example, when Scott and Stefan register at the hotel and then begin to redecorate their room, when the Flecks visit one of Cookie's many former boyfriends and his family, and what happens after the Flecks' Norwich terrier "Winky" reaches the final round of competition. Guest cleverly concludes his film by answering the question "Whatever happened to....?" thereby providing an update on each of couples as well as of Harlan long after the competition. If I were judging all of the comedies released two years ago, this would be my own choice for the top prize: Best in Show(Business) Comedy Film 2000.

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August 20, 2010
I saw bits and pieces of this, for some reason, I could never see the entire film. I need to rent this once I have a moment. Thanks for the informative review!
More Best in Show (2000) reviews
review by . April 13, 2008
My husband actually turned me onto this movie. The first time I saw it, I was completely surprised. But, the second time I was hooked.    These actors are truly amazing. Considering they have done other movies as well, I'm mesmorized at the manner in which they can take on a new persona with each movie.    There is no picking a favorite in this movie when it comes to a person or scene - because the whole thing is just great.    If you don't …
review by . February 12, 2008
Tell the truth! there aren't very many movies that are really worth owning. Sure, you've gotAkira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (Shichinin No Samurai) ~ Original Theatrical Version [Import, All-region] (Dvd), but how many times are you going to watch it?     Well, this perfectly silly movie is one that you may watch so often that you start to memorize the dialog. What makes it so addictive is the utter seriousness of the characters about their very small world. Christopher Guest and …
review by . May 28, 2007
I always thought that comedies are usually the easiest films to write which possibly explains why we have so many. Yet, 'Best in Show' is somewhat different compared to the comedies presented to us here. Directed again by Guest was for a large part improvised according to the film's documentary and is quite different from today's standards. This story is mainly about The Mayflower Kennel Dog Show which is like the Super Bowl of dog shoes; and in documentary style this film showcases the incredibly …
review by . January 04, 2004
It's terrific to see Christopher Guest and Michael McKean, the "fire and ice" song-writing combination of Nigel Tufnell and David St Hubbins from This is Spinal Tap, reunited, albeit as unrelated characters. Indeed, Guest's character, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of nuts and a hankering to learn more ventriloquism, isn't a million miles removed from the great Tap Guitarist. I don't think Best In Show quite attains Spinal Tap's giddy heights, but it will give you plenty of belly laughs, and there …
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Robert Morris ()
Ranked #168
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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Christopher Guest, the man behindWaiting for Guffman, turns his comic eye on another little world that takes itself a bit too seriously: the world of competitive dog shows.Best in Showfollows a clutch of dog owners as they prepare and preen their dogs to win a national competition. They include the yuppie pair (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock) who fear they've traumatized their Weimaraner by having sex in front of him; a suburban husband and wife (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara) with a terrier and a long history of previous lovers on the wife's part; the Southern owner of a bloodhound (Guest himself) with aspirations as a ventriloquist; and many more. Following the same "mockumentary" format ofSpinal TapandGuffman,Best in Showtakes in some of the dog show officials, the manager of a nearby hotel that allows dogs to stay there, and the commentators of the competition (a particularly knockout comic turn by Fred Willard as an oafish announcer). The movie manages to paint an affectionate portrait of its quirky characters without ever losing sight of the ridiculousness of their obsessive world. Almost all of the scenes were created through improvisation. While lacking the overall focus of a written script,Best in Showcaptures hilarious and absurd aspects of human behavior that could never be written down. The movie's success is a testament to both the talent of the actors and Guest's discerning eye.--Bret Fetzer
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Director: Christopher Guest
Genre: Foreign, Comedy
Screen Writer: Eugene Levy, Christopher Guest
DVD Release Date: May 15, 2001
Runtime: 90 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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"Be His Guest"
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