Christopher Guest | 87 mins | DVD | 12 / PG-13
Mockumentary from some of the team behind the perennially popular This is Spinal Tap. The target this time is the Competition Documentary, a genre of which the best comparable example I can recall is the excellent Spellbound (not the 1945 Hitchcock one). In this case, the film follows five sets of dog owners as they enter a prestigious dog show — an American Crufts, if you will.
The script, acting and direction always err just this side of believability, meaning if you came to this cold (and managed to not recognise any actors) you might be fooled into believing it was genuine. That doesn’t mean it’s short on laughs however — quite the opposite — and much of the comedy comes from the various recognisable character types. Not all of it mind, as many of the best moments are courtesy of a pair of commentators, who are always a good source for laughs (the first example that springs to mind is Dodgeball). Fred Willard does an excellent job as the poorly chosen sports commentator, and even his British straight man (in the ‘comedy double act’ sense), Jim Piddock, manages to grab a few laughs.
I reviewed This is Spinal Tap back at the start of last year, and while I enjoyed it (enough to award four stars) I found it often underwhelming and perhaps a victim of its own hype. No such issues with Best in Show. While it may not manage laugh-a-minute, its hit rate is above average, and what passes in between the gags is a surprisingly decent comedy-drama.