Wednesday 10 July 2024

Movie Review: Best In Show (2000)

Genre: Mockumentary  
Director: Christopher Guest  
Starring: Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey  
Running Time: 90 minutes  

Synopsis: Dog owners across the United States are getting ready for the annual Mayflower Dog Show in Philadelphia. Leading contenders include dogs owned by Florida couple Gerry and Cookie (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara), stressed-out yuppies Meg and Hamilton (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock), trophy wife Sheri Ann and her dog handler Christy (Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Lynch), gay partners Scott and Stefan (John Michael Higgins and Michael McKean), and fishing aficionado/aspiring ventriloquist Harlan Pepper (Christopher Guest). Once the competition starts, anxiety levels rise as the contestants navigate unexpected mishaps.

What Works Well: This faux documentary takes aim at the bizarre world of dog shows, and delivers a slice of Americana drawn from society's arcane corners. From Harlan's swamp to Sheri Ann's mansion, dogs are the equalizers in a competition without non-subjective rules. The scattershot comedy approach occasionally hits the intended targets, with cluelessly dysfunctional couple Meg and Hamilton generating the most effective chuckles.

What Does Not Work As Well: With the dogs sidelined into bewildered observers of their owners' eccentricities, the humour bounces along at average levels in a futile search for stand-out moments. An over-emphasis on sex is a diminishing reservoir for laughs, as exemplified by Cookie's over-played history of vigorous coupling. In the final act, the show's master of ceremonies overindulges in uninformed boorishness.

Conclusion: Both the dogs and their owners put on a show, but the dogs are much more dignified.

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