Best in Show – Review

For the past few months we’ve been looking for a dog (a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, to be exact). As I don’t nearly approach the level of pet enthusiasm that my wife does I thought it seemed appropriate to watch Best in Show. I’d never seen the film before but had heard on good authority that it was a must-see movie.

For those who have not seen it… it’s mostly very funny. I’ve come to understand that most of the dialogue was completely improvised; so much of the film’s fun comes from the unique character’s driving this mockumentary. Some are more fun to follow than others as I will attempt to describe below.

Actor/director Christopher Guest’s character, Harlan Pepper, appears to change throughout the movie based on whatever Guest thinks is funny at the moment. At various points throughout the movie Harlan is a fly fisherman, a ventriloquist, a honky tonk cowboy, and even some sort of savant (able to name every type of nut). I thought this character was just odd and not entirely fun to follow.

Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock play the stereotypical yuppie couple, Meg and Hamilton Swan. They met while exiting two different Starbucks (across the street from each other), fell in love, and now peruse LL Bean catalogs on the weekends while sipping their Venti Double Chai-tea Soy Latte’s. They seem to own a dog because everyone in the J Crew catalogs own one…. but I’m not entirely sure why they enter the dog show. I’m not entirely sure they know why, either.

Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara are Gerry and Cookie Fleck – the exact same people they play in every movie they’re in. This may come as a shock: Levy plays a nerdy, non-confrontational, awkward guy who tries very hard but rarely succeeds; while O’Hara plays a woman who has finally settled down in suburbia but is best known for her slutty past. Together they write songs about their terrier. Yawn.

Jennifer Coolidge plays a ditzy blonde who has married an aging millionaire (carefully mimicking Anne Nicole Smith’s relationship). Glee’s Jane Lynch is the dog trainer. There are some genuinely funny moments here and there… especially when Jennifer tries to explain how great her relationship is with her aged husband (“We have all sorts of things in common. We both love soup…”)

In my opinion, John Michael Higgins and Michael McKean (Lenny, from Laverne & Shirley) are the best part of the movie. They’re the Shih Tzu owning gay couple. They have all the best lines and are unquestionably the most entertaining. I’d watch an entire mockumentary that just followed these two around.

I don’t want to give too much away because most of the fun is witnessing the antics of these five dog-show entrants. It really does kind-of unfold like a reality show or documentary; leaving you sometimes surprised at what happens next. I don’t plan on purchasing a copy for my own movie collection – but, I’d recommend one viewing for sure.

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