Best In Show
*** GM
Starring: Christopher Guest, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Michael Hitchcock, Michael McKean, John Michael Higgins, Jane Lynch and Jennifer Coolidge

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This is very much done in the style of "Waiting For Guffman" in that it's a mock-documentary about self-important schlubs with a particular hobby or interest that is 90 percent improvisation from the talented cast. In this case, it's dog shows. A gaggle of oddball characters all happen to be entering their dogs into this asinine competition.

Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara are a doofus and a former slut with a prize-winning dog. Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock are awful yuppies with a prize-winning dog. Christopher Guest is an oddball yokel-ish fellow with a prize-winning dog. Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins are two upscale queens with a couple of prize-winning dogs. Jane Lynch and Jennifer Coolidge are secret lesbians with a champion dog. They all go to a dog show and try to win.

The funniest thing about these movies is how subtly savage they are in depicting average people as complete nimrods and dumbasses. It's like the "A Room of Jean's Own" editorials in The Onion - many ordinary people, when left to just talk about themselves a lot, often reveal themselves as stupid, weird or completely bland. On the surface, it may just seem to be a 'quirky' comedy - a term used often by people who aren't sure they're getting all the jokes - on the surface, but it's actually a pretty brutal depiction of the run-of-the-mill goobers in this country, and they can use a few of those once in a while.

I was expecting a little more from the film, though. Dog shows, although an underexplored topic, is also a really easy one to tear into with the mockumentary style. Maybe being personally a little closer to the small-time theater material in Waiting For Guffman made it seem more incisive to me, but there just wasn't enough punch in the film to really put it over for me. Not that I was looking for 'zany slapstick' or anything, but the story itself was just not as involving as it could've been. I did enjoy myself pretty thoroughly, but it's not quite at the Guffman level. Still very much worth the ticket, though, especially since Fred Willard stumbling into the movie to deliver Fred Willard-esque ridiculous lines manages to bring in a lot more laughs than I was expecting from him. The entire cast is incredibly talented, though, and considering that most of the lines are made up on the spot makes them even more impressive.

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