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copyright ©1999-2001

flick pick | Best in Show 2000
Directed by: Christopher Guest
Written by: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy
Starring: Christopher Guest, Parker Posey, Michael Hitchcock, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, John Michael Higgins, Michael McKean
Language: English
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Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:
The verdict: ½/ 5 the rating system explained

Plot synopsis It’s the weekend of the Mayflower Kennel Club’s annual Dog Show, one of the oldest in America, and throngs of would-be prizewinning dogs and their owners have arrived in Philadelphia with leashes, grooming tools and squeaky toys in tow to compete. Favored to win is two-time champion Rhapsody in White, a standard poodle handled by uptight Christy Cummings and owned by vapid trophy wife Sheri Ann Cabot. But giving Rhapsody a run for her money are a bevy of other well-bred contenders and their devoted owners. Harlan Pepper, a sad-faced, fly-fishing, redneck, brings his big, slobbering bloodhound Hubert, while flamboyant New Yorkers Scott and Stefan arrive with their frou-frou Shih-tzu. High-strung, shrill-voiced yuppies Meg and Hamilton Swan drag along their Weimariner Beatrice, who's been displaying emotional difficulties thanks to the constant fretting of her owners. And then there’s odd couple Cookie and Gerry Fleck, who, when they aren’t coddling their Yorkshire terrier Winky and writing dippy songs extolling its virtues, find themselves constantly running into Cookie’s many former lovers, much to Gerry’s consternation. As the competition draws to a close, hearts and dreams will be broken, for in the end, only one fine dog will be chosen Best in Show.

Review I had a dog once, a half miniature poodle, half lhasa-apso mix that, inexplicably, resembled a terrier in appearance. We loved our dog, sure, spoiled him so rotten with people food that in his later years, my mother would have to pack him special Chinese frozen dinners whenever we’d check him in for a stay at the kennel -- his gourmand’s stomach could no longer tolerate anything so plebeian as dog chow. But never once did we think of our dog as a fourth child in our family, so I’ve never fully understood the deep bond that true dog fanatics share with their canines. In my mid-twenties, now, most of my friends aren’t quite at the baby-breeding stage of life, but dog-fever has caught on like a virus. So maybe you have to know crazy dog people to appreciate how spot-on perfect a job Christopher Guest and his fine cast have done of capturing the emotional investment that some folks pour into their dogs. As with previous Guest mockumentaries (This is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman), the acting, largely improvisatory, is just amazing, and it’s brilliant how each dog breed perfectly exemplifies the traits of its owners. Some of the characters are sweetly hilarious in their obsessions – the stereotypically flaming but very funny gay couple Scott and Stefan, formerly trampy Cookie and her insecure, two-left-footed husband Gerry. Others, like hyper-competitive Christy and the dreadfully shallow Swans, are so borderline psychotic in their devotion that it’s almost (but not quite) too painful to actually laugh at their neuroses. Combining just the right amount of wickedly biting humor and sweet loopiness, Best in Show is yet another inspired parody from the delightfully nutty minds of Christopher Guest and Co. —reviewed by Y. Sun 

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