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on October 11, 2003
Christopher Guest's "Best in Show" is a wildly hilarious satire that pokes fun at people who are overly obsessed with their pets. So obsessed that they would take their pets and put them in a type of "beauty pageant" in order to get awards and recognition. It's funny and unrelenting because you see it as an everyday occurrence in society. People like this really do exist, and that is why it's so humorous. The characters are all out of their minds and are a joy to watch in this very entertaining and unpredictable film.
I had no idea what I was going to experience when I popped this into the DVD player. At first, it didn't seem like anything that would interest me. However, almost every single person I know had seen it and encouraged me to watch it. I'm glad I did give it a chance, because I ended up really liking it. The satire is outrageous and subtle at the same time (something that's VERY difficult to accomplish unless the project is in the right hands). The actors are hilarious and very animated, but at the same time you know that these types of people really do exist! Eugene Levy was my favorite person in the film. He's so subtle and clever when it comes to humor. Overall, everybody was fantastic in their roles.
The DVD has some really cool extras. It has very good picture and sound quality. Extras included are deleted scenes, feature length audio commentary by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy, theatrical trailer and more. The deleted scenes are pretty interesting to watch. Tons of special features for those who love the extra "bells and whistles."
"Best in Show" is great satirical comedy in top form. Not a wasted second is present in the movie. If you're looking for something a little less ordinary, this may be the choice for you. Christopher Guest has done an excellent job of orchestrating this very entertaining and clever film that gives us 90 minutes of fun and laughs.
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on July 9, 2001
I don't even remember if this movie made it to the theaters in my town. This is the kind of small gem that slips past critics and moviegoers and either finds an audience in the video market, or passes away into obscurity. Those viewers who enjoyed the improvisational comedy of Christopher Guest's previous efforts (This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting For Guffman) will love Best In Show. It features a wonderful cast that includes Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins, the flambouyantly gay owners of a prize winning shih tzu, a yuppie couple (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock) whose Weimaraner is as neurotic as they are, Christopher Guest as the proud owner of a Bloodhound named Hubert who also fancies himself a ventriloquist, and Catherine O'Hara as a former nympho who keeps running into old boyfriends (she's had hundreds of them), much to the chagrin of geeky husband Eugene Levy. They are all competing for Best In Show at the prestigious Mayflower Kennel Club dog show. Their ridiculous and outrageous behavior is captured in a documentary style. Fred Willard chews the scenery hilariously as a commentator who seems to know nothing about dogs or anything else for that matter. Don't let this one pass you by, it's well worth the price. The DVD also comes with some very funny deleted scenes and a commentary by Guest and Levy.
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on May 15, 2001
This was a funny, funny movie, to say the least. I've never seen "Waiting for Guffman", but "Spinal Tap" still makes me laugh to this day. My main attraction to this movie was Fred Willard(known lately for his hilarious "conversations" with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show). This man does wonders when it comes to improv, and this movie just displays that so well.
The film polks fun at Dog Shows(one event in which it's participants take itself WAAAAAAAAAY too serious). This is best displayed when Fred Willard, playing a commentator for the show, asks his partner if he could guess how much Fred benched in his prime. Also to mention his hilarious anecdote for dressing up a bloodhound in a Sherlock Holmes uniform, in order to "get the crowd pumped".
I liked this movie, and anyone a fan of mellow humor, rather than gross-out humor(Farrely Bros, etc.) should check this out. It's more of a comedy for people in their 30's and up, but I'm 15, and got a tremendous kick out of it. I won't touch down on the characters, because I'm sure you've read plenty on that already. But, if your in the mood for one hell of a comedy, or just a plain old Fred Willard fan like myself, this is definitely worth a view.
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on May 7, 2001
Although this isn't as cultish as "This Is Spinal Tap" or as laugh-out-loud-funny as "Waiting for Guffman," "Best In Show" once again showcases Christopher Guest's brilliance as a writer/director of "mock-umentaries," as well as his impeccable taste in assembling the perfect cast. Guest takes the least-showy role of soft spoken Southerner, Harlan Pepper (a far cry from Guffman's flamboyant Corky St. Clair), and surrounds himself with the likes of Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy as a woman with a dubious sexual past and her hapless husband; Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock as a strident yuppie couple who tear into one another mercilessly over what's best for their beloved dog; Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins as a middle class gay couple who sing their dog lullabyes over the phone; and the hilarious Jennifer Coolidge (in a send-up of Anna Nicole Smith) as a vapid fortune hunter married to an ancient millionaire while maintaining a curiously close relationship with their dog trainer played by Jane Lynch. The movie has a gentle, lilting feel, humorous but not screamingly funny, and takes time to develop these characters fully while exploring the tense and cut-throat world of dog shows. Fred Willard nearly steals the show as a pompous, ignorant commentator. There are so many wonderful moments in this film, you have to check it out for yourself. Not for everyone, I'm sure. The story is fairly basic and, like Guest's other films, this is more a character study than anything else. If you're a fan of his earlier work, this is a must-see.
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on August 20, 2005
To me Best in Show is one of the great films of the past decade or so. I have now seen it more than a half dozen times (and very few films hold up to that intense and detailed viewing) and each time that I see it I find more and more things in it to appreciate. Unlike other reviewers, I don't really think that the film is "about" dog shows. Rather, the dog show environment and culture serve merely as a way of revealing the foibles of different sorts of characters in contemporary culture, as well as the genius of talented writers and performers. It is one of those rare films in which almost every line, facial expression, gesture, and action is perfect and conveys a world of meaning, perspective, and irony. It is really a film in the tradition of great comedy (including Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Mozart, and Balzac) that exhibits compassion toward and understanding of human beings in their predicament as fools, naifs, and self-deceivers.
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I already knew going in that I like folk music a lot more than dog shows, anniversary pageants, or heavy metal music, which explains why "A Mighty Wind" remains my favorite of the Christopher Guest mockumentaries, but "Best in Show" certainly has its moments. Dog shows are a great target for satirical skewering simply because you do not have to go too far to accomplish the task since the dogs we see posing and prancing are not like the dogs the rest of us know in the real world. But the dogs are the innocents in this tale, even if they are exposed to the sight of their masters making love. It is the owners who are invited to humiliate themselves simply by being themselves.
The focus point of "Best in Show" is the Mayflower Kennel Club's dog show in the city of Brotherly Love. The script is by Guest and Eugene Levy, but the idea of a scripted film is a misnomer since what is really at play are the improvisational techniques of Second City more than the crafted skits of Saturday Night Live. In the grand plan of such mockumentaries we follow the paths of several dogs and their owners, most of whom will indeed be up for the grand prize:
Harlan Pepper (Guest) and his bloodhound, Hubert (Ch. Quiet Creek's Stand By Me); Gerry (Levy) and Cookie Fleck (Catharine O'Hara) and their Norwich terrier, Winky (Can. Ch. Urchin's Bryllo); the catalog loving Meg (Parker Posey) and Michael Hitchcock (Hamilton Swan) and their sleek but troubled weimaraner, Beatrice (Can. Ch. Arokat's Echobar Take Me Dancing); Scott Donlon (John Michael Higgins) and Stefan Vanderhoof (Michael McKean), a happy gay couple raising twin Shih Tzus, Miss Agnes (Can. Ch. Raptures Classic) and Tyrone (Can. Ch. Symarun's Red Hot Kisses); and airhead Sherri Ann Ward Cabot (Jennifer Coolidge) married to a geriatric millionaire who has hired the lesbian dominatrix Christy Cummings (Jane Lynch) to train a two-time defending champion Rhapsody in White (Brocade Exclamation Ca. Ch. Exxel Dezi Duz It With Pizaz), the Standard Poodle.
The actual dog show is pretty much done straight in terms of what we see out on the floor (seeing Don S. Davis as the Best in Show judge was a treat). The characters might run their dogs around in their own manners, some with more flare than others (i.e., Higgins), but the dogs are trying their best. The same can be said for genial Buck Laughlin (Fred Willard), who is providing commentary on the dog show for the folks watching at home on television. Buck's comments have as little to do with what is actually going on as possible, while commentator Trevor Beckwith (Jim Piddock) tries to bear the errant slings and arrows coming out of Buck's mouth as he steals the last half of the movie.
The climax of the dog show is one of the subtlest jokes in "Best in Show," but if you think about America's affection for the underdog in sporting competitions, even those involving actual dogs, you will get the point. This is perhaps the most subtle of the Guest mockumentaries, which may or may not be saying something. Whether it becomes a personal favorite is going to depend on your affection for dogs as much as it does on your affection for the usual stable of players that Guest has once again rounded up for the festivities.
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VINE VOICEon July 24, 2001
Sly humor in another vein is finely tuned in Christopher ("This Is Spinal Tap" and "Waiting for Guffman") Guest's "BEST IN SHOW." Writer-director Guest and his fearless ensemble players zero in on the animals and humans who dwell in the strange subculture of competitive dog shows. Almost documentary -- or should I say "dogumentary"? -- in style, this largely improvised, sustained farce follows a clique of dog owners as they enter their animals in a national competition. You may not laugh out loud, but you will certainly smile and possibly even chortle at the eccentric dog owners. There's Parker Posey and Mike Hitchcock, a tightly-wound, pretentious yuppie couple who think they've traumatized their Weimeraner when they had sex in front of him. Co-writer Eugene Levy is a Terrier owner and amazingly tolerant husband to Catherine O'Hara and her prodigious sleep-around past. Guest is a loquacious, ventriloquist-aspiring and literally red-necked owner of a sardonically-faced Bloodhound. Fred Willard steals the show as a naive -- and painfully inappropriate -- ad-libbing announcer. This is a sweet movie that holds an affectionate mirror to absurd human behavior in a ridiculous setting. Animal lovers rest assured, there are no jokes at any dog's expense. The disc includes a witty commentary by Guest and Levy and a bunch of deletes scenes. Recommended.
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on December 15, 2001
Humor is just such a subjective thing. I almost hate to recommend comedies--even to people I know fairly well--because they almost always seem to get back to you with "what-was-so-funny-about-that" type comments. It works both ways, though, I still wonder at all the people who recommended SOMETHING ABOUT MARY to me as though it would be just my cup of comedy. I laughed maybe twice.
But I loved this movie. It's not that I know that much about the world of dog shows--although I did go to a cat show once and found it truly bizarre. The characters in Christopher Guest's "mockumentary" range from the quirky to the truly outlandish, but they're all very recognizable types, played to perfection by a cast of SCTV, SNL and indie vets.
It's nice to see such talented comedians as Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy and Guest himself in a vehicle worthy of their talents. Fred Ward is perfection as the know-nothing TV commentator. And as for Jane Lynch, John Michael Higgins and Jennifer Coolidge, well, where have they been hiding? (Don't say the closet, PUH-LEEZE!) This is not outrageous, gross-out humor. But for those who like something a little more understated, "Best in Show" is hard to beat.
The additional 15 minutes of out-takes in the VHS and DVD formats provide a little added value, but actually serve as proof positive that the theatrical version movie was very well edited. The extra scenes all have their moments, but they also seem to fall flat in some ways. (We really don't need another scene with Harlan Pepper doing his ventriloquist act.) The excised scenes demonstrate that less is indeed more.
Five stars and a blue ribbon.
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Tired of sappy pseudo-screwball comedies, unfunny personalities and forced happy endings? You've come to the right place. Gifted satirist/filmmaker Christopher Guest (THIS IS SPINAL TAP; A MIGHTY WIND) literally went to the dogs with this set-at-a-dog-show sendup, but it's the owners, not the dogs, that get sent up.

What Guest and co-star/co-author Eugene Levy have done is to craft a kind of comic apotheosis of various "types" of Americans at the turn of the millenium. Count a wonderfully zippy screenplay, a great cast (some of whom go all the way back to SPINAL TAP in the Eighties) who draw on their improvisational skills early and nice tight editing--the show brims with funny, if ironic truths about the way we Yanks view competition and how we, or some of us, live through our dogs and our possessions. Think of it as an ironic, telegenic WINESBURG, OHIO and you'll understand that while the references aren't arcane, the humor is really of a very high order.

Fred Willard plays the TV color man, whose every remark strives for wit but bespeaks a deep, deep ignorance of the topic ("The sporting dogs; those are the 'jocks' of the dog world, aren't they?")

Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock are the Swans, a couple of shrill perfectionist yuppies from suburban Chicago. Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hare are the Flecks, a very typical middle-class couple from Ohio except that he has two left feet and she has round heels (a running joke in the film, as she is forever running across past lovers, to hubby's consternation).

The ever-funny Jane Lynch plays a lesbian kennel owner with an eye for a rich man's wife (Jennifer Coolidge). Michael McKeon and John Michael Higgins are gay beauty-salon operators; the McKeon character could pass for straight but when Higgins' flames, he is a holocaust. And best of all, C. Guest himself plays Harlan Pepper (love that name!), a molasses-mouthed, low-key North Carolina hunter.

I won't reveal the outcome but the situation comes from the fact that all these owners' dogs are in final competition for "Best in show." And so much of the dialog rings true, even when a little bizarre, again because of the intelligent script and the prevelance of outstanding improv. players. The McKeon character casually drops the name of a competitor's salon: improv. "Harlan Pepper" in true cavalier style demurs when Jane Lynch's character says he SURELY must have HEARD of HER: "Wull, I have and I haven't." Improv!

To toss out more of these gems would be to introduce spoilers. Hint: Get ahold of this DVD at a bargain Amazon price or go for the three-pack of Guest's recent hits BEST IN SHOW, A MIGHTY WIND and WAITING FOR GUFFMAN at a great ensemble price.
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on March 13, 2002
Christopher Guest, that brilliant comedian from "Saturday Night Live", member of Spinal Tap, and writer/director of comedic gems like "Waiting For Guffman", is back once again with another laugh filled(very dry humor)piece of film with this well made "mockumentary" on competitive dog shows. The film follows 5 different couples and their respected dogs traveling to compete in the all important 'Best Of Show' dog show. Playing the people are a wide range of great talent. Former SCTV co-stars Catherine 'O' Hara and Eugene Levy(who co-wrote with Guest)appear as a couple with the wife running into a number of old sexual partners. Another is the great Michael McKean as part of a gay couple. I can't remember the other guy's name. Then you have Jennifer Coolidge(American Pie, Legally Blonde)as a rich blonde and her rather butch-ish dog handler(Played by Jane Lynch). Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock play a yuppy-ish couple who go to therapy because they think their dog has been damaged by seeing them have sex. And, finally, the last person is Guest himself. He plays Harlan Pepper, a southerner with a deep accent who also longs to be a ventriloquist. Very rich and well developed characters. As I've mentioned, the film is done in the 'documentary' style. Not everybody goes for that. I find it to be refreshing and funny. "Drop Dead Gorgeous" is another "mockumentary" favorite of mine. Guest is no doubt a comedy genius. He has an incredible knack for finding the funny in incredibly unfunny things. He is a master. Catherine 'O' Hara's running joke about running into old sex partners could've been used to exhaustion, but thankfully, the makers only had it happen three times, so it doesn't lose the humor. Alas, I have saved the best for last. I'm talking about the great Fred Willard. How great is this man?. He's been around forever always doing a good job. This guy was perfect as the dog show announcer who just blurts out rather odd and hilarious dialogue throughout the show. Hilarious. Other familiar faces here are Ed Begley Jr., and comedian Larry Miller. This style of film and comedy doesn't float everyone's boat, but it should. One simply can't wait for what Guest has in store for us next.
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