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Best in Show (2000)

  Directed by: Christopher Guest
Written by: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy
Starring: Jennifer Coolidge, Christopher Guest, John Michael Higgins, Michael Hitchcock, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, Catherine O'Hara, Parker Posey
Links: Best in Show on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 8.50 (2 ratings)
nofreelist.com Ranking: Ranked equal 35th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Best in Show (2000) is also mentioned in mino's review of A Mighty Wind (2003), andy-j's review of A Mighty Wind (2003), pearly's review of A Mighty Wind (2003), mino's review of This is Spinal Tap (1984) and mino's review of Waiting for Guffman (1996).

"It's no pooch" - a review by mino

It's hard to say anything in a review of Best in Show that I haven't already said in my reviews of Waiting for Guffman (1996) and A Mighty Wind (2003), its predecessor and successor respectively in the pantheon of Christopher Guest-directed improvisational comedies. Like the other two, Best in Show is a side-splittingly funny movie that, unlike so much of the alleged ‘comedy’ churned out by Hollywood today, is actually a very good movie too.

Guest and his gang of regulars (Catherine O'Hara, Michael McKean, and the rest) consistently produce comedy that is remarkable not only for the brilliantly witty — and oftentimes out-and-out hilarious — dialogue and for the occasional (but always brilliantly conceived, executed, and timed) piece of quality physical comedy, but also for the tremendous characters they manage to dream up. While I gather the characters themselves are largely the brainchildren of the writers in question (in this case, Guest and Eugene Levy), they owe their brilliance to the incredible comedic and improvisational talents of the actors who create them.

Each and every character is a well fleshed-out individual who is hilarious not only because of the lines the actors come up with, but because they're all basically a bunch of freaks and weirdos — but in the nicest possible way. Each character is funny in and of themselves, with each one being a complete package: their mannerisms, expressions, voices, actions, backstories and personalities all combine to make each one a loving portrait of a totally believable, yet totally screwy and therefore totally funny character.

This care extends to nearly every character in the film — in this case, the story of the preparations for, and happenings at, the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show. From Parker Posey's bitchy Weimaraner-owning yuppie princess through to Jennifer Coolidge's rich but incredibly stupid champion poodle owner, each character is brilliantly cast and equally brilliantly acted. This extends all the way down to even the most minor characters, like Bob Balaban as the president of the kennel club and Jim Piddock, who is absolutely perfect as the strait-laced ‘special comments’ guy, a wonderful straight man to Fred Willard's TV commentator (who just happens to know nothing at all about show dogs, and is probably the second-funniest character in the movie).

I say ‘second-funniest’ because surely the honour of funniest character has to rest with Guest himself, who in this case gives himself an even more brilliant role than he had in Guffman. Guest plays Harlan Pepper, a backwoods bloodhound-breeding bait-shop owner, who is just wonderfully daffy. Despite the fact that everyone in the film manages to come up with some great lines, Guest is consistently hilarious, showing a mastery of improvisational comedy that makes even the other geniuses with whom he shares the screen look like amateurs. Every line from Harlan's mouth is absolute comedy gold, and upon watching the equally hilarious deleted scenes on the DVD release you realise just how funny the guy is: if all the brilliantly funny Harlan Pepper moments were included in the film, there'd be no time for anyone else to show off their talents.

Admittedly the plot isn't exactly Mulholland Dr. (2001) in complexity, but there's a surprising amount of drama (the lost dog toy), excitement (the judging results), and romance (Coolidge and… well, you'll see). In my opinion, anyway, Best in Show ranks (along with Guffman), as one of the very best comedies of the last ten years. You can't ask for much more than that.

mino gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 27 Jul 2004

"Would you stop naming nuts?!" - a review by pearly

Hooray for Christopher Guest! Probably most famous for This is Spinal Tap (1984), Christopher is a funny, funny man. And Best in Show is no exception. Like most of his work, this is a mockumentary - set at the fictional Mayflower Kennel Dog Club's annual show. Many different dogs (and their owners) compete for "Best in Show"; the film focussing on just a few.

There's Harlan Pepper (played by Guest himself) with his lovable bloodhound Hubert. He's probably the best character in the bunch; Guest's accent is superb, and he keeps the laughs coming. The Swans' (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock) weimaraner Beatrice is disturbed after having witnessed them having sex; and the Flecks (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara) have trouble showing their Norwich terrier Winky when Cookie hurts her knee. There's also the gay couple with their pair of Shih Tzus, and the millionaires and their handler, who own the two-time winner - a poodle named "Rhapsody in White".

In my opinion, Best in Show isn't as good as Waiting for Guffman (1996). But, the thing is, when you're making comedy that's this good, it doesn't really matter, because it's still way funnier than lots of the other crap that's out there.

Guest's comedies are very relaxed in their style - nothing seems too rushed; there's no sense of being pressured into a laugh a minute, and the laughs aren't forced. So, when you find something funny, you can really get into the laugh. Different people will probably find different things funny too - from the Swans' catalogue style to Scott's (John Michael Higgins) repetitive "queen" jokes. I laughed just at the way the people looked as they showed their dogs.

If you're after quality comedy (not necessarily of the tit-and-bum variety) you could do a lot worse. And if you get the DVD version, make sure you check out the deleted scene of Harlan's beach ball collection, furthering the fascination that I have with tangents and incidental plotlines, this is just fantastic.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 2 Sep 2002

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 8.50
Lowest rating: 8 (by pearly)
Highest rating: 9 (by mino)
 
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