Best in Show Review
By Joe Lozito
Puttin' on the Dogs
Christopher Guest, one of the comic masterminds behind "This is Spinal Tap", has fashioned that 1984 mock-rockumentary into an odd career path. In 1996, Mr. Guest, and partner in crime Eugene Levy, wrote "Waiting for Guffman", a close-to-the-bone look at regional theater. Now they have concocted "Best in Show", a satirical look at the various and sundry persons who frequent dog shows.
These canine lovers certainly seem ripe for some comic picking. But thankfully, "Best in Show" does not go for cheap shots. Unlike "Guffman", "Show" seems to have much more love for its characters; the caricatures are never grotesque. For once, one of Mr. Guest's films features a believable homosexual couple (a nicely toned-down Michael McKean and Patrick Cranshaw) and a genuinely complete portrayal of a Southern fisherman by none other than Mr. Guest himself.
Like the early Mel Brooks films, Mr. Guest shines when he is true to his material. Most of the best moments in the film do not revolve around the dog show, but instead deal with the characters. There is a sweet scene in which two yuppies (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock) describe their first meeting (in adjacent Starbucks cafes) and a hilarious subplot involving the sordid past of Mr. Levy's wife (a delightful Catherine O'Hara).
If this film shows a bit of maturity for the "Spinal Tap" crowd, than we should welcome it. If they could take a subject as seemingly benign as a Dog show and craft it into a film with humor, heart and even a little bit of tension, I look forward to seeing what they turn their sights on next.