Christopher Guest is immortal amongst cult comedy fans for appearing in, and co-writing, rock spoof This is Spinal Tap. His latest “mockumentary” follows five dogs - and their owners - competing to be “best in show” at the Mayflower dog show
in Philadelphia.We follow a talented ensemble cast (including Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Michael Hitchcock, John Michael Higgins, Michael McKean, Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Lynch) preparing themselves, and their dogs, for the show and then improvising their way through it. The key characters are all outrageous caricatures - including neurotic yuppies and a butch-femme lesbian couple - but all hilariously set on winning. Also worthy of note is Fred Willard’s idiot commentator who loves the sound of his own voice and knows a little about everything, but not much about anything.
I laughed a lot during Best in Show. I don’t think writers Guest and Levy are nasty in their satire. They are not saying the owners at dog shows are all like this (real owners are conspicuous beside the actors to make this plain). Instead, they’re exaggerating the obsessive characteristics of a small group for enormous comic effect. It helps that their characters are brought to life (and generally made endearing) by actors who excel at improvisation.Dog lovers - including showdog owners - should get a hoot out of Best in Show.