Also recommended

From April 2001
Film Review

MISS CONGENIALITY other March releases

Film Review Hotline
BEST IN SHOW
4 Stars- Recommended

Best in Show

It's a dog's life

STARS: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Michael McKean, John Michael Higgins
DIRECTOR: Christopher Guest
SCREENPLAY:
Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy
CERTIFICATE: 12
DISTRIBUTOR and Image copyright:
Warner Bros
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 30mins
OPENING DATE (UK): March 09

If the Oscars had a category for Best Mockumentary, then writer and director Christopher Guest would have cornered the market on those coveted statuettes. Guest cut his satirical teeth with This Is Spinal Tap, Rob Reiner’s classic heavy metal parody, and perfected his art with Waiting For Guffman, a painfully funny look at a small town’s preparations for their 150th anniversary pageant.

And now Guest and co-writer Eugene Levy have created Best in Show, a delightful mockumentary about the dog-eat-dog world of competitive canine competitions. Reuniting most of the Guffman repertory company, the film is filled to the brim with delightfully eccentric characters, who speak with the natural assurance of well-performed improvisation.

Best in Show assembles its diverse group of characters from across America as they head for the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show in Philadelphia. There’s the yuppie couple Meg and Hamilton Swan (Posey, Michael Hitchcock) who seek medical advice to determine if their weimaraner Beatrice has been affected by watching their kinky sex antics. In Florida, Gerry Fleck (Levy) was literally born with two left feet, and his wife Cookie (O’Hara) seems to be well known among their fellow dog owners. There’s the silicon-enhanced Sherri Ann Ward Cabot (Jennifer Coolidge) and her geriatric husband, who have hired a pro handler to propel their champion poodle to victory. And gay New York couple Scott and Stefan (Higgins and McKean) have twin shih tzus that are destined for stardom. Guest himself appears as Harlan Pepper, owner of a lugubrious-looking bloodhound named Hubert.

But it’s Fred Willard who steals the show, so to speak, as Buck Laughlin, the show’s clueless commentator. His wacky non sequiturs are the high point of a film, from his speculation that a bloodhound’s prospects might be improved if he was to wear a Sherlock Holmes cap and a pipe in his mouth, to his knowing comments about a leg-humping dog.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter who the winners are; as with the cringe-making pageant of Guffman, the fun is in the getting there. One can’t help wondering on what target Guest will next set his parodic sights. The possibilities are limitless.

Joe Nazzaro

Read our massive reviews sections in this month's Film Review
Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction.

{short description of image}
FILM OF THE MONTH:
4 Stars; Recommended
MISS CONGENIALITY • released March 23

FULL DETAILS AND REVIEWS OF ALL THESE AND MORE IN THIS ISSUE

5 Stars; Excellent
DAMNATION
ERIN BROCKOVICH
THE TERMINATOR
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

4 Stars; Recommended
AUDITION
BROTHER
BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER

4 Stars; Recommended
DARK DAYS
DON’T LOOK NOW
ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS HANNIBAL
LAST RESORT
NATIONALE 7
PROOF OF LIFE
SAVE THE LAST DANCE
SHOWER
THIRTEEN DAYS