March 23, 2010

Justify My Netflix: Best In Show

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Best In Show

Today's movie: Best In Show, 2000 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because this is a comedy classic that I should be ashamed of myself for still not seeing, a semi-improvisational mock documentary about the world of competitive dog shows, from the same group largely responsible for the '80s semi-improvisational mock documentary about heavy metal, This Is Spinal Tap.

The reality: Yep, it's Spinal Tap for dog shows, all right. And by that, I mean that the ad-hoc coalition of creatives responsible for this movie mainly do their jobs by picking a milieu ripe for gentle spoofing, and a cast that deftly knows how to do this, then standing back and letting the magic happen. And that I suppose is why all of this group's mock documentaries over the years have been judged primarily on how strong the milieu itself is in the first place -- see for example the much lesser esteem that is held for their 1997 Waiting for Guffman, set within a small-town community theatre company that is producing a brand-new pageant to celebrate their city's 150th anniversary, not only a world with fewer inherent jokes but that feels meaner when you mock them. That's not the case with competitive dog shows, a semi-absurdist community to begin with that is filled with almost a semi-parodying amount of stereotypes; and that's why when this movie goes broad sometimes with its comedy, like the flaming middle-aged gay couple and the controlling lesbians who are their arch-enemies, Best in Show gets away with it while other of their movies don't, for another example 2003's A Mighty Wind, which is too much a legitimate loving homage to '50s folk music to have its broadest jokes work. It comes recommended to anyone who likes to laugh, and laugh a lot.

Strangest piece of trivia: Parker Posey had a doctor install a real set of braces for her role here as a highly-strung yuppie.

Worth your time? Oh my, yes

Filed by Jason Pettus at 10:15 AM, March 23, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |