Best in Show (2000): ***1/2
This is the third "Mockumentary" by Christopher Guest, following This is Spinal Tap and more recently Waiting for Guffman. In the tradition of those two movies, this one is excellent.
It follows several dog owners as they prepare for, then compete in an important dog show.
Christopher Guest himself, as the redneck bloodhound owner, is far and away the funniest of the bunch. His monologue about naming nuts is one of the funniest monologues I've ever seen in a movie, and the difference between this character and the ones he played in the other two movies is astonishing. Eugene Levy, as a man with two left feet and a former nymphomaniac for a wife, also turns in another performance of great effectiveness as a man with gross incompetence and self-denial always bubbling right on the surface, although the role is very similar to the one he had in Waiting for Guffman.
Parker Posey fares a little less well as a severely stressed-out yuppie who, with her husband, constantly and unwittingly torments her dog. Fred willard is of course very funny as the dumb commentator, althout his effectiveness was somewhat dulled by the implication that he had done this at least one other year. I would have liked it better if he had come in raw, instead of having more dog shows under his belt.
There's a theme in all of Christopher Guest's movies. It is that none of his characters are the least bit accurate or honest in their self-assesments. Thier views of their lives and successes are completely different from what we in the audience see in them. It is so obvious to us that they are buffoons that it is a squirmy delight to watch them to work so hard at embarrassing themselves (Eugene Levy singing a song about his dog to his neighbors). But also it is great fun to watch the people around these idiots trying their hardest not to treat them how they so obviously deserve to be treated.
That said, I did think this movie was too short. I know for a fact that there was a lot more footage filmed than made it to the screen. The editing process seemed a little too brutal for me. We never even get to learn why Parker Posey and her husband both have braces, and you know they filmed that. I bet it was really funny, too. Sometimes it seemed that they would just cut away from scenes at a big laugh rather than when they ended. It made me feel a bit cheated. One can only hope that the DVD of this movie has many of the deleted scenes intact.
Interestingly, this movie seemed the least like a real documentary of all of Christopher Guest's movies. Not a quibble, exactly. It just seems that he's moving further and further from the format. I'd be curious to see what he could do with a more traditional movie format.
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