Best in Show

Directed by Christopher Guest
Starring: Christopher Guest, Michael Hitchcock, Parker Posey, Michael McKean, John Michael Higgins, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Bob Balaban, Fred Willard.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and sex-related material.

Review by Lauren Snyder <>
September 29, 2000

Very rarely do I see a comedy that makes me laugh heartily in the theatre. The last film that did this was This Is Spinal Tap, which I recently saw in its reissue. Because of its, um, pedigree (I swear I'm trying to avoid dog jokes), I knew that I would love Best in Show, the new film by Waiting for Guffman writers Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap) and Eugene Levy (American Pie). For those of you who have been waiting for a truly funny movie this year, your wait is officially over.

Christopher Guest has said that the idea for this film about the 125th Annual Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show came from taking his dog for a walk in Central Park. I can imagine him seeing people like Hamilton (Michael Hitchcock) and May Swan (Parker Posey), the neurotic owners of a Weimaraner named Beatrice... Scott Donlan (John Michael Higgins) and his life partner Stefan Vanderhoof (Michael McKean), bound together by a love of old movies and Shih Tzus... Gerry (Eugene Levy) and Cookie Fleck (Catherine O'Hara), a cross-eyed man and his formerly promiscuous wife who sing songs about their terrier named Winkie... Harlan Pepper (Christopher Guest), the mumbling bait-and-tackle shop owner who's got one heck of a ventriloquist act going with his dummy and his bloodhound Hubert... and the triangle of Sheri Ann (Jennifer Coolidge), her husband Leslie (Patrick Cranshaw) and master dog trainer Christy (Jane Lynch), all responsible for a poodle named Rhapsody.

Of course, the very best part of the film comes from dynamo Fred Willard as inept dog show commentator Buck Laughlin. He had the audience in hysterics as only Fred Willard can. Yet he was given a showboat role, so it's easy to single him out, when the whole cast was so funny and appropriate. A few of the actors I hadn't seen in other things before, and after a fact-finding mission at the IMDb, I realised that they had only done about a dozen B-movies and a lot of TV guest spots. What a collectively talented group!

This was a funny, clever, sweet motion picture. It's inches away from 3 stars, but was a little too slow-going in places for that kind of a recommendation. I'd advise viewers to watch Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman before seeing this to better appreciate the humour involved. Besides, if you haven't already seen them, you're missing out.

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Best in Show (2000)

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