Best in Show

Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Jennifer Coolidge,

This comedy, written and directed by Christopher Guest, is ingeniously insane. It’s about dog show participants and their strange owners done up in a wacky mock documentary style that oozes with wonderful character quirks that somehow manage to elevate this into a focused and fabulous spoof.

Eager particpants travel from all walks of life across the U.S. to the Mayflower Dog Show in Philadelphia. There’s Harlan Pepper (Guest) a North Carolina fisherman and practicing ventriloquist who’s traveling with his loyal bloodhound Hubert; there’s an Anna Nicole Smith – styled wife named Sherri Ann (Jennifer Coolidge) who’s married to a rich relic. She engages the serices of top handler Christy Cummings (Jane Lynch) for her star poodle named Rhapsody in White and for some hanky-panky on the side. Yuppie couple Meg and Hamilton Swan (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock) take turns sending their high strung Weimaraner into psychosis and then pet therapy. Blue color types Gerry and Cookie Fleck (Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara) travel from Florida with their stocky little Norwich terrier Winky who looks more like a furry pig than dog. Along the way, the Flecks stop off to see old friends, one of whom has the hots for Cookie. Scott and Stefan (John Michael Higgins and Michael McKean), a gay couple from New York are entering their terribly spoiled Shih Tzu, Miss Agnes. For a 48-hour trip, Scott packs seven kimonos for himself and enough fabric to redecorate their hotel room.

It looks real; it sounds real and there’s even a real-looking tournament with hilarious dog show commentary by comic Fred Willard. Thanks to the Second City TV cast, with their excellent improvisational skills, a good script plus the realism provided by technical advisor and dog consultant Earlene Luke, Best in Show gives us a keen satire well played. Rated PG-13 for language/sex-related material.

Lotta says Best in Show wins the blue ribbon.

Reviewed 12/1/00.