Best in Show

Review Date:
Director: Christopher Guest
Writer: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy
Producers: Karen Murphy
Eugene Levy
Catherine O’Hara
Parker Posey
A faux documentary featuring several dog owners preparing to take their prize pets to the big show in Philadelphia. Along the way, we get an insight into the world of dog shows, as well as all of the competition, neurotic owner behavior and everything else that you’d expect from a “hobby” which some people obviously take too seriously.
A very funny, original take on the world of dog shows, filled with many memorable characters, hilarious commentary and even some constructive education about the industry behind the shows themselves. I’m more of a “cat guy” myself, but you don’t need to love dogs to enjoy this movie. The many well-developed kooky characters are what drew me into this film, and I just loved watching all of these actors riff left and right. Give Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara some of the highest praise in this regard, with super chemistry, perfect tit-for-tat dialogue sessions and one especially hilarious sequence with Larry Miller as an old flame. You see, O’Hara’s character used to be “easy” when she was young, and the film features many very funny moments of her former conquests crudely making points about their trysts together, right in front of her timid husband. We also have the extremely neurotic snooty couple, Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock, who feel the need to bring their dog with them to their psychiatrist and who simply cannot seem to control their own diva-esque behavior. Kudos to both of them, and especially on whoever decided to slap braces on the poor fools. Nice touch.

The two final couples also offer many moments of chuckle in their own right, especially the flamboyant gay character portrayed fabulously by John Michael Higgins, and the very controlling dog trainer played intensely by Jane Lynch. I mention all of these names and all of these characters because they are what make up the fabric of this entire movie, and if you don’t like them, then you will more than likely not “get” this movie. I appreciated them all, save for Christopher Guest’s own character in the film, and I especially loved two of the “smaller” personalities in the movie. The first is Ed Begley Jr. (where has he been?) who slurps it all up as the manager of the host hotel and Fred Willard, who in unquestionably the funniest thing about this movie. He literally steals the show as one of the commentators of the big dog show finale, and delivers some of the best lines that I’ve heard all year. You couldn’t find a bigger boob to add color commentary to the show than this very misinformed gentleman! And a great job by his straight man British co-host as well. Overall, I don’t believe this comedy is suited for most people. There is a lot of dry and satirical humor here, which may not be appreciated by some. But for anyone who loved Guest’s WAITING FOR GUFFMAN, knows of the improvisational techniques perfected here by all participants, and just plain loves dogs, this puppy is a perfect companion for this fall’s lazy weekend getaway. Funny and original…nice combo!

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

Best In Show