Best In Show

Best In Show (2000)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy, Michael McKean
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer, Cast & Crew Biographies

’Best in Show’ is the second film from the team of Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy, who had previously brought us 1996’s ’Waiting for Guffman’. As with ’Guffman’, ’Best in Show’ is a film that begins with a basic outline and then relies on the improvisational talent of the actors to create the characterizations and the humor. Whereas ’Guffman’ examined the world of small-town theatre, ’Best in Show’ puts a dog show under the microscope. The (fictional) film is shot and edited in a documentary format, and through this, we meet several dogs and their eccentric owners, as they make their way to the Mayflower Dog Show. The entrants range from an intense yuppy couple (Parker Posey & Michael Hitchcock) to a fishing shop owner (Christopher Guest) to a homosexual couple (Michael McKean & John Michael Higgins). Through interviews and ’behind the scenes’ footage, we get to know the quirks of each member of this strange group, as they each face their own obstacles in trying to win the show.

’Best in Show’ is a tough nut to crack. The film is basically very similar to ’Waiting for Guffman’, but, overall, I would have to say that ’Best in Show’ is more entertaining. If you’ve seen ’Waiting for Guffman’ and didn’t like it, then you probably won’t enjoy ’Best in Show’. While ’Best in Show’ is essentially a comedy, the film had more serious points than I’d expected (the yuppy couple scared the hell out of me!). The film contains a handful of true ’belly laughs’, but I would say that I simply smiled pleasantly at most of the jokes. The film is very engaging though, and there is a great deal of suspense as the dog show winds down to its conclusion. Guest is wonderful as usual, but he’s yet to recapture that ’Spinal Tap’ magic. Eugene Levy is surprising good and Catherine O’Hara delivers a great performance as Levy’s wife. (To be honest, I didn’t recognize her at first!). I can’t say that ’Best in Show’ is the ’best’, but it is a solid film that does a good job of lampooning the documentary genre.

Warner Home Video brings ’Best in Show’ to DVD with a transfer, which is worthy of a pedigree. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and is enhanced for 16×9 TVs. Here we have another reference quality transfer from Warner, as the image shows no grain or defects from the source print. The picture is bright and crystal clear, showing bright and brilliant colors. This digital transfer is stable, showing no intrusive lines or artifacting problems. The audio on the DVD is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which brings the viewer clear and audible dialogue, with hiss evident on the track. The surround sound is used sparingly, but is effective in the dog show scenes.

The ’Best in Show’ DVD features an audio commentary with director/co-writer/star Guest and co-writer/star Levy. This track is very entertaining, as the two funny-men describe the origins of the film and how it was ultimately made. It’s interesting to hear them describe how the improvisational work is done. The DVD also features 17 deleted scenes, which add up to 30 minutes of extra footage! Many of these scenes are very funny and the film would have benefited from their inclusion. The theatrical trailer for ’Best in Show’ is included, and it is letterboxed at 1.85:1. Selected cast filmographies round out the special features.