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Best In Show  

Harlan Pepper (Christopher Guest)
Gerry Fleck (Eugene Levy)
Meg Swan (Parker Posey)
Cookie Fleck (Catherine O’Hara)
Stefan Vanderhoof (Michael McKean)

Directed by Christopher Guest Written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy

Rated PG-13 for language and sex-related material
Running Time: 90 minutes Distributed by Castle Rock Entertainment
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Best in Show is a very amusing original comedy about dog shows. The film is a fictional documentary that follows a group of characters travels and experience of the Philadelphia Mayflower Dog Show. Nine colorful characters and their loyal dogs are introduced one by one. As we follow these characters and their dogs to the “mother” of all dog shows, each character’s determination and dedication is reveal for their quest to be best-in-show. There is the lovable fishing shop owner named Harlan (Guest) that is accompanied to the Mayflower show by his bloodhound Hubert. Scott (Higgins) and Stefan (McKean) are a gay couple that know their Shih Tzus, Mrs. Agnes, has the reflection of a winner. Meg (Posey) and Hamilton (Hitchcock) are two lawyers that hope their depressed Weimaraner, Beatrice, will get happy quick for the show. Leslie (Cranshaw) is a wealthy woman that has no thought of her champion Poodle losing at the Mayflower. Finally there is Gerry (Levy) and Cookie (O’Hara) Fleck, who also have 100% confidence in the abilities of their Norwich Terrier Winky.

Best in Show is a great little movie that will have you laughing constantly. The concept of making a documentary style comedy is one of the most original ideas to come out of Hollywood this year.

Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy had their hands on everything in this production. The two acted in and wrote the script for the film, while Guest also served as the film’s director. Guest’s documentary style is simple and elaborate. I noticed that he used either a 16mm or a hand held camera to shoot some parts of the film. An example is when Guest’s character, Harlan, is in the woods and explaining how his bloodhound, Hubert, talks to him. I am not very knowledgeable about cameras, but to me it looked like Guest used a hand-held camera in many shots. Guest and Levy’s script is an enchanting story that delivers many laughs. I loved that the script spent equal amounts of time on introducing and developing each character. The two writers also make the dogs of the film recognizable and lovable through their owners’ witty dialogue and light actions. The dogs are just as likeable as all of the owners of the film. Another aspect about the characters in this comedy is that each one of them has depth, which is something that many Hollywood comedies don’t have or edit out of the final cut.

All of the acting in this film is wonderful, every actor has their own scene-stealing moments, and Parker Posey conquers many of them. Posey masterfully plays the deranged and hot-tempered lawyer, Meg. I have always thought that Posey had talent, but I saw some her acting as overdone. She delivers a spark of a performance in this film with more balance than she had in the past. Posey is gifted and it is a treat to watch her with this role. Levy and Guest, who I consider multitalented entertainers, deliver good performances as two of the competitive dog owners, Harlan and Gerry. I also enjoyed watching veteran comedic actors Michael McKean (SNL), who plays Stefan, and Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice), who plays Cookie, back into instrumental comedy.

Best in Show is not a typical comedy, but this film will probably be the best comedy of the year. I just thought that idea of a dog show documentary was something that has never been done before, and that the film was very realistic. I use to live with four show dogs and an eager dog owner (my former stepfather). The way this film reflects the obstacles that owners will go through to have their dog as number one is absolutely real and true. I also worked at a few dog shows when I was a teenager as a pooper-scooper. None of the shows I worked at were as big as the fictional Mayflower show, but the ring judges’ gestures and ties in this film are also right on target.

Report Card Grade: A -

Beastman’s Movie Reviews
Copyright, 2000 Joseph
C. Tucker

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