Movie Review By Monica Sullivan
If you’ve ever been to a dog or cat show in person, the idea of going behind the scenes may be the last thing you want to do. The atmosphere is thick with the sort of longing that accompanies the Oscar ceremonies. The only difference is that the pets are dressed a whole lot better than their human companions. People lavish all their love and hopes and grooming tips on their best canine or feline friends and rarely give their own appearance a second thought. Christopher Guest satirizes this rarefied world in “Best In Show”, his latest dogumentary. One of the smartest things Guest has done is cast Fred Willard and Jim Piddock in the roles of Buck Laughlin and Trevor Beckwith, the Mayflower Dog Show’s side-splitting color commentators. It’s obvious that Buck doesn’t know the first thing about dogs and Trevor the pristine expert can barely tolerate his oafish colleague with an endless fund of old jokes and leering suggestions about whether or not the show is fixed.
Guest casts himself as Harlan Pepper, totally devoted to his bloodhound Hubert. Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara are Gerry and his randy wife Cookie Fleck, the proud trainers of a Norwich terrier named Twinky. John Michael Higgins and Michael McKean, are Scott Conlan and Stefan Vanderhoof who bring their beloved Miss Agnes to the competition. And then there are Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Lynch as Sherri Ann Cabot and Christy Cummings who display their standard poodle Rhapsody In White when they aren’t canoodling behind the back of Shari Ann’s wrinkled rich husband, Leslie Ward (Patrick Cranshaw). Most disturbing of all are the psychodramatic Hamilton and Meg Swan, played by Michael Hitchcock and Parker Posey. This legal team etched in Hell drive their bewildered Weimaraner Beatrice straight into a nervous breakdown. Poor Beatrice. I wondered what happened to her after “Best In Show” was over. Like “Waiting For Guffman”, “Best In Show” reveals a slice of life that means everything to those who live there and nothing to those who don’t. Guest and co—writer Levy examine it with affection, sympathy & a pinch of harsh critical distance in “Best In Show”.
© 2000 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 9/27/00
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