Best In Show

on September 29, 2000 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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Director Christopher Guest follows up his praised "Waiting for Guffman" with another quirky look at the foibles and rituals of unsophisticated American life, namely dog shows, exemplified by the fictional Mayflower Dog Show. Better than the insufferably cute "Waiting For Guffman," "Best in Show" is an uneven but likable comedy with its fair share of laughs.

Much of the best humor comes from Guest's favored cast, many of whom have worked for him before. "SCTV" veterans Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara are terrific as Gerry and Cookie Fleck. He literally has two left feet and she's got a promiscuous past, something that Gerry is frequently reminded of as they keep bumping into her old boyfriends en route to the dog show. Also a hoot are Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock as the neurotic Swans, who take their dog to their therapist and treat it as coddled child. But Fred Willard as the oblivious co-host of the Mayflower show, who knows nothing about his subject and says anything that comes into his mind, steals the film. He's simply hilarious.

The other actors, including Guest himself as Southerner Harlan Pepper and John Michael Higgins and Michael McKean as a flamboyantly gay couple, are not as well-utilized. And a lot of the comedic situations, such as the Fleck's hotel troubles, aren't as funny as Guest must have envisaged them to be. Too often, "Best in Show" sputters along, only coming to life when Levy or Posey or Willard do their stuff. The result is a movie that feels stretched out to twice as long as it needs to be. By the time the dog show itself is wrapped up, the film's energy has dissipated, too. Starring Eugene Levy, Parker Posey, Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard. Directed by Christopher Guest. Written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy. Produced by Karen Murphy. A Warner Bros. release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language and sex-related material. Running time: 90 min

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