Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

Best in Show

leave a comment »

Dean Michael Higgins & Michael McKean, doing it Shi-Tzu style

Dean Michael Higgins & Michael McKean, doing it Shi-Tzu style

Once a year, the American doggie elite congregates in Philadelphia for the Mayflower Dog Show – travelling by air, caravan, BMW and station wagon – projecting their dreams and hopes onto the family pet.  Christopher Guest’s mockumentary, Best in Show digs down deep into the psyches of the owners and the nitty-gritty politics of show dogs.  Or does it?

Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock

Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock

Writer/director Christopher Guest hits the pay dirt he missed with Waiting for Guffman, which drew too heavily on This is Spinal Tap, Rob Reiner’s 1984 classic, in which he co-starred with Michael McKean.  Best in Show is satire at it’s best, sharply funny right from the opening scene where we meet married dog owners, yuppies Meg and Hamilton Swan (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock) in pet therapy, explaining to the psychologist how they have traumatised their Weimaraner – who walked in on them having sex – in a position, the ‘congress of the cow’, they learned from the Kama Sutra. This is just the beginning of the psychological torment these two wreak on their poor pooch.

Levy, O'Hara & Winkie, the wonder Norwich Terrier

Levy, O'Hara & Winkie, the wonder Norwich Terrier

Then there’s musical Gerry and Cookie Fleck (Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara) and their little terrier. They’re madly in love – but Cookie is still trying to live down her past and the hundreds of men she knew before finding Gerry. If only they would stop turning up wherever they go.

Gay New Yorkers Scott and Stefan (John Michael Higgins and Michael McKean) are certain their Shih Tzu, Agnes, will win top honours.  Guest plays Harlan Pepper, a dull North Carolina fly-fisherman cum ventriloquist showing his lovable bloodhound, Hubert.

The divine Jennifer Coolidge as Sherri Ann Cabot and her adored hubby

The divine Jennifer Coolidge as Sherri Ann Cabot and her adored hubby

Lastly, there’s gold-digger Sherri Ann Cabot (Jennifer Coolidge) who can “not talk” with her eighty year-old husband all day long. Her professional dog handler (Jane Lynch) is going for a third win with Sherri’s prize poodle, Rhapsody in White.

Guest’s script, co-written with Eugene Levy leaves room for this remarkable cast to flex their improvisational muscles – every performance is believable and life-like – in no time you’ll be rooting for your favourite canine-human team.

Will Guest be the best?

Will Guest be the best?

Credit also goes to technical advisor and dog consultant  Earlene Luke, who staged what seems to be a genuine dog-show. She co-presents with the clueless Fred Willard who makes the sort of dirty jokes one might expect from an eight year old throughout the competition.  “Shih Tzu?  What kind of a name is a Shih Tzu?”

A laugh out loud flick – 96 minutes of pure belly laughs. And watching it on DVD is twice as nice because Guest has included so many alternate takes, it’s like an alternate version.

Advertisements

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

31/03/2009 at 11:50 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: