It’s been quite awhile since I’ve watched this cult classic, a 90s throwback to the genius of Christopher Guest, and I was not disappointed in the least. If you haven’t heard of Guest, he’s the creative force behind This is Spinal Tap!, A Mighty Wind, and Waiting for Guffman, and has acted in The Princess Bride, Little Shop of Horrors and A Few Good Men (he appears in each of his films.)
The plot follows several dog owners in their journey to reach the opportunity of being named “Best In Show” at the illustrious Mayflower Kennel Club’s annual competition.
Guest’s bloodhound-owning character Harland Pepper is as likeable and flawed as the insanely anal-retentive Swans (portrayed by Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock), the odd Hamilton couple (Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy), and campy lovers Scott and Stefan (John Michael Higgins and Michael McKeen). Each character/couple have warmth in the archetypes in which they operate and are so socially awkward that the viewer can squirm in empathetic delight as the show rolls on.
Like Guffman and Spinal Tap, the outcome of Best in Show is more dreary and realistic than the films in the comedic genre; no one (even the Mayflower winners) really evolve or find prosperity. Pepper is still an aspiring ventriloquist, the Hamilton still blame their dog for their personal problems, and the promiscuous Cookie Hamilton runs into yet another former lover. I see this as a narrative on the monotony of daily life, and how people will almost always ignore their experiences and what they should have learned in the quest to remain in their cozy and unchanged world.