Editor’s Note: Since the amazing Christopher Guest celebrated his birthday this past Sunday, here is a look back at one of his amazing films. And no, it’s not Princess Bride! Our fav contributor Teacup takes a look at the hilarious Best In Show! Happy Birthday Chris!
I recently sat down to watch Best In Show, a comedy by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy. Best in Show follows five dogs and each their eccentric owners on their quest to win 'Best in Show' at the fictional Mayflower Kennel Dog Club Show. Guest and Levy's other works include the cult classic This is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind.
The film is in documentary style, or, to be more specific, mockumentary style, parodying both the people who attend and compete in dog shows and the documentary style itself. Presenting the story in documentary style is a storytelling choice I'm not usually fond of, but Best in Show makes it work. The documentary style, in which the actors speak to the camera and help tell the story, makes a film more intimate, as if you're being spoken to by the actors on screen, creating a deeper connection between the audience and the actors. It also allows the filmmaker to treat their subject matter in a completely serious matter, which is great for a comedy. Each neurotic character trait and each awkward moment is intensified by the supposed 'real life' aspect of the 'documentary.' And Best In Show is definitely full of awkward moments and neurotic character traits.
The entire cast is extremely talented and all but disappear into their roles, but the shining stars of this film are Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock, who play Meg and Hamilton Swan, a neurotic yuppie couple (who met at two different Starbucks... across the street from each other) who smother their dog into disinterest. Another shining star is Jane Lynch in the role of Christy Cummings, a very tough as nails dog trainer working for Jennifer Coolidge, who is playing an Anna Nicole Smith type character. This role is quite different from the cheerleading coach she portrays on TV's Glee.
While the two commentators both have funny moments, they are probably the weakest point of the film. Too much time is spent on their 'banter' and not enough on the contestants and their interactions both with each other and with other contestants. I would especially have liked to see more interaction between the different teams. If anything, the focus on the commentators rings true to life, but this is one time where I could have done without realism in film.
Best In Show is not for the easily distracted; there are no explosions, musical numbers, or over the top emotional scenes in this. It's enjoyable purely for its humor and its situational comedy. It's also clever in its humanity; I'm sure you will recognize a little part of yourself in any of these characters, no matter how exaggerated they seem. All in all, though I'm not usually a fan of the documentary style which is very present in our visual media today, I enjoyed Best in Show very much and I would definitely recommend it.
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