Best In Show

Best In Show

****1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Mayflower Dog Show in Philadelphia is Christopher Guest's excuse to have fun with the American will to win. Actually, he's having fun with Americans.

The dog jokes are along the line of like-owner-like-pet, but the American jokes are character driven and this lot are well chosen.

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Gerry and Cookie are from Fern City, Florida. He's a menswear salesman and has had the misfortune of being born with two left feet. Cookie is sunny and giggly. When she was younger, she liked dating. They have a Norwich terrier, called Winky.

Stefan and Scott are two peas in a pod, except Stefan's more rounded. Scott loves a laugh and taking half his wardrobe wherever he goes and flirting with hotel staff. They have a shih-tzu, called Miss Agnes.

Hamilton and Meg are yuppie lawyers from Illinois, both highly strung and opinionated. They wear braces on their teeth and talk about sex like it's a virulent disease. They have a weimaraner, called Beatrice.

Harlan Pepper owns a fly fishing shop in Pine Nut, Carolina. Secretly, he wants to give it up and go on the boards as a ventriloquist. He has a peculiar way of talking, probably because of living alone with a dog and a wooden dummy. He has a bloodhound, called Hubert.

Sherri Ann is married to billionaire Leslie Ward Cabot. She considers herself a cosmetic artiste and is 50 years younger than her husband. She hires Christy Cummings for her masculine attributes and dog handling skills. They have a poodle, called Rhapsody In White.

Guest, who plays Harlan Pepper, and Eugene Levy, who plays Gerry, wrote the script, although much of it was improvised by an exceptional cast of intelligent actors. As a result, the humour is fresh and the performances sweet as mint julep.

Filmed in the mockumentary style of This Is Spinal Tap, a previous outing for Guest as actor/co-writer, it is living proof that American screen comedy has a life above and beyond Jim Carrey and Dude, Where's My Car?

Ironically, Guest is English. What's more, he's a member of the House of Lords and has been married to Jamie Lee Curtis for almost 20 years.

Reviewed on: 09 Mar 2001
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Everyone's barking at the dog show.
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