Friday, June 3, 2016

Best in Show (2000)


I came really late to the whole This is Spinal Tap party. I remember hearing the whole “taking it to 11” quote and not knowing what it referenced. I first saw it in the late 90s at some point. Needless to say I saw Christopher Guest in that film shortly before I saw him in this mock documentary. To tell you the truth I had no idea it was the same guy! And then to find out he was in Princess Bride as well… mind blown!


It is time for all contestants in the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show to make their way Philadelphia. This documentary follows a group of hopefuls as they take the incredible journey and what happens to them at the show. We meet Harlan Pepper (Christopher Guest) a southern country boy who loves his bloodhound and ventriloquism in almost equal measure. There’s Stefan (Michael McKean) and Scott (John Michael Higgins) who bonded over classic films and dogs, and now have a prize winning Shi-tsu with almost as much attitude as the two of them combined. Then there is the blazing poodle Rhapsody in White owned by the bubbly Sherri Ann (Jennifer Coolidge) and trained by the no nonsense Christy (Jane Lynch). Meg (Parker Posey) and Hamilton (Michael Hitchcock) may be getting a bit too intense about their Weimaraner’s depression. And finally Gerry (Eugene Levy) and Cookie (Catherine O’Hara) have a Norwich Terrier in tow, a case of two left feet and a shady past to deal with.

Plenty of familiar faces appear on the screen including Larry Miller, Ed Begley Jr., Fred Willard, Bob Balaban, Don Lake and Jim Piddock. This mock documentary contains plenty of laughs and a few surprises as each dog reaches for the stars to become the Best in Show.

Good Points:
  • The cast does a wonderful job bringing these fun characters to life
  • Filled to the brim with quotable lines
  • Dog fans will have a ton of fun

Bad Points:
  • Not a fan of mock documentaries, this one will not change your mind
  • Some of the performances may grate on some viewers
  • I’ve run into a few people who didn’t like the portrayal of the gay characters


For a movie like this to work you need a cast committed to the concept and willing to improvise. You get that in spades with this film and the result is a consistently funny and entertaining film. The movie spends just enough time with all the quirky characters and places them in amusing situations. The finale at the dog show contains some masterful commentary by Fred Willard and Jim Paddock (who does a killer straight man in this film). Packed with quotable dialogue you might find yourself shouting “Where’s Busy BEE!!!” or singing “God Loves a Terrier” many days after you watch this fun flick.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 3
Sound: 3
Acting: 4
Script: 4
Music: 3
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 5
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I rewatched Spinal Tap not long ago when it appeared on TV. I've seen it many times before, but always gives me a smile. They are so dead on with some of the rock world posturing.

    My next favorite from that comedy grouping is Waiting for Guffman. It's about a local putting on a play, and then ends the film by showing the play. It's funny, colorful, and well rounded with that ending. I should catch up with some of their other films.

    1. Yeah "Waiting for Guffman" is a hoot. I haven't seen it in years, but having performed in several plays in high school and college I found it pretty relatable. Check out "Best in Show" if you get a chance. It was on Neflix download last week.

  2. With the right touch the pseudo-documentary format can work. Woody Allen's early "Take the Money and Run" comes to mind. It can be too constraining for some filmmakers though, who may opt instead for the voice-over narrative hybrid, as in the quirky "Chump Change" (2000) -- or for that matter "Sunset Boulevard" (1950).

    I haven't watched this one, but your review adds to the list of positive ones I've seen.

    1. Yeah I've seen some bad mock documentaries too. They are actually pretty hard to do right. I've never seen "Take the Money and Run", but I do remember the VHS cover for some reason. If you are looking for a few laughs this weekend, give "Best in Show" a shot.