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Overall Rating

Awesome: 34.09%
Worth A Look49.24%
Average: 12.88%
Pretty Bad: 0.76%
Total Crap: 3.03%

11 reviews, 66 user ratings

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Best in Show
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by Thom

"Sassy, sexy fun."
4 stars

Christopher Guest's movies are all character studies. Best In Show is set against a Dog Show and it plays like a method acting workshop. Premise: How would this particular character behave in this situation with this particular motivation. What would they feel? Roll Cameras.

Christopher Guest does it again. First there was Spinal Tap, the heavy metal band parody. Then there was Waiting For Guffman about a small community theatre production that was something like a populist Waiting for Godot. And now there is Best In Show.

Sure its about a Dog Show, but its really about the people who find meaning through their participation in the world of dog shows and how it affects their life. The dogs are their life. Dogs, like careers, like significant others, like cars, like collecting ... its all the same mechanism really. I'm pretty sure Guest takes a constructivist view of the situation. "How is this scenario built and how are the people/places/things/events as universal as they are particular?" Guest is a pretty smart guy. And when its all said and done, its just a funny movie with some good laughs and some rough spots that don't come off as well.

The scene where Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock as the yuppie couple Peg and Hamilton Swan talk about how they met is all improvised and there are moments when Parker just can't keep a straight face. I liked that genuineness, that thespian-ness of the film. A good ensemble piece for actors allows actors to act. Not to be stars. I like that a lot. Not that being a star is bad. but acting is cool and its cool to see artists doing their art.

One other element that I was totally blown away by was the slight whistling affectation in the speech of Guest's character, Harlan Pepper. Guest must have been on some kind of a vocalisation kick because his character was also practicing to be a ventriloquist. I wonder if patterns of speech are the current character obsession for Guest. I'm sure it wasn't a random element, but a carefully studied and placed element. Its those little things that bring characters to life in a way that you can't do on a stage. You can't be subtle on stage. You can't edit for subtlety after the principal footage has been shot.

But who cares about the stage. Its just the Waiting For Godot connection I was trying to reckon with the reason why Guest uses traditional stage themes in the context of film which, while it employs light and sound and motion, is an entirely different beast for actors and directors and yet one which emerges time and time again as a reference point for actors who are acting but not for film makers, who are film making.

I saw Best In Show the night it opened at a small theatre in a college town, so the crowd was a little more urbane, a little more mired in terms like "constructivist" and playwrights like Samuel Becket and a wide range of ages. The second day at the same theatre, I noticed there were many lesbians in line for the matinee. I guess it became a lesbian community must see film literally overnight. I think lesbians feel obligated to support the work of anyone who features lesbianism in a non-patriarchal way. Or maybe it was just one of those flukes and my data is all skewed because of it.

Almost all the cast of Waiting for Guffman returned for Best In Show. Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey, Christoper Guest ... and the rest, recreate all new roles, flaunting their ability to flow like water in and out of these characters but still being ironical and absurd in a way that doesn't make the characters less human, just more caricaturish. The characters are mostly studies in a type.. the shallow yuppie, the flamboyant homosexual, the slutty suburban housewife ... who is actually pretty grounded and comfortable with her sexuality.

There are a lot of wrenches like this in Best In Show.. You think you are going to see a send up of a stereotype and you end up getting a complicated human. The dog show is the thing that brings everyone together. Its like a level playing field for people who come from different places with different problems, different priveleges, different needs and in a way they all end up being essentially the same kind of person. A Dog Show-er. I wasn't sure when the film was supposed to be a parody. There were some kitschy elements in it, but it wasn't like a Leslie Neilson film were the characters are clownish in their simplicity. Something seperates Guests movies from just parody.

It seems like his method is to take the simple, driving themes of anyones life and wrap them into a fairly commonplace situation as a study in humanity while pointing out how universal much of the human experience is and yet we just get all bogged down with the very surface details. At that level of living, it gets pretty funny. and where we also get drama, conflict and all the wonderful stories about us and our lives.

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originally posted: 10/10/00 17:50:23
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User Comments

11/27/11 joshuaprater1979 Hilarious movie! 5 stars
9/14/10 Philo Skinner (terrier king) Huge laffs 5 stars
5/16/10 tangled just wanted to mention that it was a bloodhound and not a daschund... 5 stars
8/26/09 Agorilla I have watched it so much that it is no longer funny, but I didn't go blind either! 5 stars
6/29/09 budo I know what dog shows are like. HILARIOUS movie! 5 stars
12/28/08 Samantha Pruitt very funny and smart, this was a great movie! 5 stars
9/04/08 Rachel My absolute favorite Christopher Guest. Not for everyone, but a true comedic gem. 5 stars
1/30/07 Shari Hilarious - one of my favorite films ever-I show dogs 5 stars
1/14/07 Yoda This is the sort of pretentious nonsense critics praise. 1 stars
5/01/05 Indrid Cold More clever than funny, but still fairly entertaining. 4 stars
2/23/05 Ayla Hapiak It is very bad. If you want us to enjoy a movie please make it more teenagers movies. 1 stars
1/11/05 Mary Schneider This movie, though not nearly as funny as Waitning for Guffman, is laugh out loud hilarious 5 stars
4/27/04 yaser i have seevthis film now 1 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody Get her busy-bee!!! 5 stars
11/04/03 R.W. Welch Semi-improv send-up has a unique comic flavor. Willard is a screech. 4 stars
8/09/03 Will Green 'tis a very good film, one I'd reccommend to anyone. If you don't like it, go fuck your dog 4 stars
7/29/03 cohese A truly fun movie. great. 5 stars
7/15/03 Toria This is the funniest movie I've ever seen. I show dogs and this is so true! 5 stars
6/21/03 John Aster Habig this film brings the underestimated genre of mockumentary to new heights great cast 5 stars
6/08/03 earl hoffert my god, fred willard 5 stars
6/01/03 Jack Bourbon Fred Willard: you sir, made me piss my pants! 5 stars
4/25/03 mr. Pink Really great and fun-tastic!! Great perfs and big laughs!! 5 stars
2/01/03 y2mckay Thank god these wackos have dogs, not kids. Hilarious! 4 stars
12/26/02 Charles Tatum Funnier than Waiting for Guffman 5 stars
12/19/02 Adam Parker Posey steals this movie 5 stars
11/22/02 Denise Great flick! I laughed my ass off!!! 5 stars
7/04/02 KMG Parker Posey's character and the husband were SOOOO fucking in need of a reaming 3 stars
6/24/02 blake paker posey did great in this movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/29/02 Gary A lot of funny elements, but the mockumentary style kills it. 3 stars
2/23/02 LyonHeart Now THIS is a date movie. See it with your dog. Make it a double with My Dog Skip.... 4 stars
2/19/02 Bart Shore Brilliant. If you own a dog, you must see this. 5 stars
1/24/02 Andrew Carden It's Worth A Look Just For The Puppies. 4 stars
1/13/02 Phil M. Afficianado Just about a perfect satire/comedy; was in hysterics in places; the ending rocks 5 stars
12/05/01 Skip Young As good if not better than Guffman. Okay, no Spinal Tap, but one of the greatest comedies. 5 stars
9/05/01 malcolm very good -- not as funny as "Guffman" though 4 stars
8/28/01 That Guy I was rolling through the whole thing. 4 stars
7/06/01 SeStA FUNNY FUNNY FUNNY!!!!! This movie is one of the best comedies of all time.Cool dogumentary! 5 stars
5/30/01 Dan Radu Well done. Almost as good as The Tap. 4 stars
5/25/01 Hi-fuckin-larious The name says it all. 5 stars
4/26/01 Brian the "Spinal Tap" of dog shows. More consistent laughs than "Guffman" 4 stars
4/21/01 viking The funniest dog movie I've seen !!! 4 stars
4/11/01 J.Arcane More curling the side of your lips than laugh-out-loud. 3 stars
3/09/01 gmh Film drags a bit until Fred Willard appears 3 stars
3/04/01 Suzz unfunny and dull 2 stars
2/23/01 Scott It's no "Waiting for Guffman" but it is still fun to see the cast together again. 4 stars
2/13/01 Jake This film certainly had its shining moments. 4 stars
1/31/01 Monday Morning Lotsa yocks. Every character had some laugh-out-loud moments. 4 stars
1/18/01 Bub Pretty damn funny! 4 stars
1/12/01 Matt69 Fred Wilard is a fucking riot, and Harlan Pepper's bloodhound fucking rocks. 4 stars
12/04/00 Izzy This is one of the funniest movie that has passed my eyes...I have to see this movie again! 5 stars
11/22/00 Harlan peanut, brazil nut, macadamia nut, red pistachio nut... 5 stars
11/22/00 Elvisfan It was all right, no big deal, not much that was really memorable 3 stars
11/18/00 Mr. X Characters are believable and real without being caricatures. 4 stars
11/16/00 Sylvia Simon Very funny - Parker Posey is a hoot! If you liked "Waiting for Guffman", you'll like it. 4 stars
11/12/00 kramer Very funny with very bizarre characters 4 stars
11/10/00 Heather It's a light, fun movie with great characters 5 stars
11/05/00 Blubberbot I will see every movie Guest makes. 5 stars
11/03/00 Katsat Great characterization, funny, believable, sympathetic, original. Consistently entertaining 5 stars
10/26/00 bullit17 It's not Guffman, but it's still a darned good movie and a fun time 4 stars
10/23/00 natasha would have been even better if Corky had shown up 4 stars
10/16/00 monumentl it's no Waiting For Guffman, but taken on its' own terms, pretty damn funny 4 stars
10/15/00 gilcarlson hysterical picture, Guest is brilliant 4 stars
10/07/00 matthew it was so funny I wet myself and chewed up my master slippers in glee 5 stars
10/04/00 frank the funniest movie i've seen since BATTLEFIELD EARTH 5 stars
10/04/00 Barron Classic on soooo many levels 5 stars
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  13-Oct-2000 (PG-13)


  12-Apr-2001 (M)

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