Appreciating all that makes America special

Film: Best in Show

Christopher Guest, here as Harlan Pepper the man who breeds hounds and can name every nut, is the creative force behind this brilliant mockumentary. Uploaded by static.guim.co.uk.

Somehow, you always knew the world of professional dog shows had to be inhabited by some rare breeds, and I’m not talking about the animals. Ba da boom! In Christopher Guest’s wonderful mockumentary, the dogs are perfectly normal. It’s the people who are profoundly neurotic.

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Although Guest and the brilliant Eugene Levy share the writing credit, much of Best in Show is improvised by the talented ensemble cast who clearly love to work with Guest as director. Among the actors are Parker Posey, Catherine O’Hara, Levy, John Michael Higgins, Michael McKean, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, Ed Begley, Jr., and Fred Willard.

The Mayfair Kennel Club Dog Show in Philadelphia is the destination of this menagerie of characters. One yuppie couple frets over the dog who gets paranoid whenever they’re intimate. A gay couple (Higgins and McKean) fuss over their shih tzu, and a woman with quite a libertine past (O’Hara) continues to run into former lovers, to the chagrin of her fiancé (Levy). Willard is hilarious as the show’s broadcast announcer. But Guest saved the single best character for himself, as the country boy Harlan Pepper. Pepper not only has a great hound dog, but a fondness for nuts, as you can see in this first clip (sorry about the first ten seconds)…

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