Best in Show (film)
Best in Show is a 2000 American mockumentary comedy film, a spoof on American dog shows, co-written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy and directed by Guest. The film follows five entrants in a prestigious dog show, and focuses on the slightly surreal interactions among the various owners and handlers, as they travel to the show and then compete during the show. Much of the dialogue was improvised. Many of the comic actors were also involved in Guest's other films, including Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration, and Mascots. The film's score was composed by C. J. Vanston.
|Best in Show|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Christopher Guest|
|Produced by||Gordon Mark|
|Written by||Christopher Guest|
|Music by||C. J. Vanston|
|Edited by||Robert Leighton|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$20.8 million|
Best in Show is presented as a documentary of five dogs, their owners, their trainers and their handlers, who travel to compete in the fictional Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show, held in the fictional Beyman Center in Philadelphia. Segments of the documentary continuously cycle among owners and handlers as each prepares to leave for the show, arrives at the hotel, prepares backstage, handles their dog's performance, and appears in a post-show follow-up. The owners and their dogs include:
- Gerry and Cookie Fleck (Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara), with their Norwich Terrier Winky:A middle-class couple from Florida, who, not having paid their credit-card bills, making their card unusable, and not having enough cash on them for a two-night stay at the posh fictional Taft Hotel, are forced to sleep in the hotel's storage room when they finally arrive. Throughout the film, they encounter Cookie’s former lovers, who kiss her passionately and try to seduce her, provoking Gerry’s jealousy.
- Meg and Hamilton Swan (Parker Posey, Michael Hitchcock), with their Weimaraner Beatrice: An upper-class, stereotypical yuppie couple from a fictional Chicago suburb known as Moordale, Illinois, they think they are taking great care of Beatrice (although really they are just confusing and upsetting her with their neurotic behavior), going as far as taking her to a psychotherapist after she sees Meg and Hamilton have kinky sex. At the show, the Swans fear that Beatrice will become unhinged without her favorite toy, the "Busy Bee", and frantically search for a replacement for it before the show.
- Harlan Pepper (Christopher Guest) and his Bloodhound Hubert: The Southern owner of a fishing goods store and an aspiring ventriloquist, he is an affable man who prides himself on being able to name every type of nut. Pepper's family has raised a variety of hounds for generations, and Harlan continues the tradition by raising bloodhounds.
- Sherri Ann and Leslie Ward Cabot (Jennifer Coolidge, Patrick Cranshaw) with their Standard Poodle Rhapsody in White (or Butch):A two-time past winner of the show, Sherri Ann is a plump, buxom, overly-made-up trophy wife to the elderly Leslie, her sugar daddy. They are assisted by trainer Christy Cummings (Jane Lynch), who makes sure the dog is truly ready for the show, while Sherri Ann fixates on giving Christy a makeover and Leslie remains utterly oblivious. Over the course of the film, Sherri Ann and Leslie's sham marriage and Sherri Ann and Christy's romantic involvement become apparent.
- Scott Donlan and Stefan Vanderhoof (John Michael Higgins, Michael McKean) and their Shih Tzu Miss Agnes: A campy gay couple, they take great pride in their dog, and are confident that she will win the competition. They share a love of old movies and enjoy making fun of Christy Cummings, but are friendly to the other competitors, especially the Flecks.
The owners and their dogs all arrive in time for the show, which is hosted by dog expert Trevor Beckwith (Jim Piddock), and oblivious "color" commentator Buck Laughlin (Fred Willard). During the first round, Beatrice is disqualified when Hamilton cannot control her, but the other four dogs advance to the final round. Just before the finals, Cookie dislocates her knee and insists that Gerry take over for her. Though the audience is initially awed by seeing Gerry's "two left feet" (the result of a birth defect), ultimately Winky takes Best in Show.
Afterwards, the film explores what each character is doing after the competition. Gerry and Cookie return home to Florida and are overcome with attention after the victory. They go on to record, in amusingly bad style, songs about terriers, but discover to Gerry's frustration that the recording engineer (Steven Porter) is yet another of Cookie's ex-boyfriends. Sherri Ann and Christy have entered into a partnership (whether Leslie has died or has been divorced from Sherri Ann is unknown) and publish a magazine for lesbian owners of purebred dogs, called American Bitch. Harlan fulfills his dreams and becomes a ventriloquist, entertaining sparse crowds with a honky tonk song and dance number. Stefan and Scott are in the process of designing a calendar featuring Shih Tzu dogs appearing in scenes, with appropriate costume, from famous classic films, such as Gone with the Wind and Casablanca (and McMillan & Wife, a television show included without explanation, though possibly because it starred Rock Hudson, a closeted homosexual.) Hamilton and Meg Swan no longer have Beatrice (they do not explain what became of her), allowing them to enjoy a calmer, more loving partnership, as well as a new dog (a pug) named Kipper, which they claim enjoys watching them make love.
- Eugene Levy as Gerry Fleck
- Catherine O'Hara as Cookie Fleck
- John Michael Higgins as Scott Donlan
- Michael McKean as Stefan Vanderhoof
- Michael Hitchcock as Hamilton Swan
- Parker Posey as Meg Swan
- Jennifer Coolidge as Sherri Ann Cabot
- Jane Lynch as Christy Cummings
- Christopher Guest as Harlan Pepper
- Larry Miller as Max Berman
- Jim Piddock as Trevor Beckwith
- Fred Willard as Buck Laughlin
- Ed Begley Jr. as Hotel Manager
- Lynda Boyd as Cabot Party Guest
- Teryl Rothery as Philly AM Host
- Patrick Cranshaw as Leslie Ward Cabot
- Will Sasso as Dale the Fishin' Hole Guy
- Bob Balaban as Theodore W. Millbank III
- Don Lake as Graham Chissolm
- Jay Brazeau as Chuck Nelken
The starring dogs listed are denoted by their registered names. All have earned the title Ch., indicating they have qualified for a championship at conformation shows, with most qualifying for the Canadian Kennel Club Championship—hence the prefix Can. The kennel prefix of one or more breeders precedes each dog's registered name; e. g. in "Arokat Echobar Take Me Dancing", the first breeder is "Arokat" and the second is "Echobar" while the name is "Take Me Dancing". The registered name differs from the dog's call name, which is used to talk to the animal. For example, Arokat Echobar Take Me Dancing's call name is "Peach".
- Can Ch. Arokat Echobar Take Me Dancing - Beatrice the Weimaraner
- Can Ch. Urchin's Bryllo - Winky the Norwich Terrier
- Ch. Quiet Creek's Stand By Me - Hubert the Bloodhound
- Can Ch. Rapture's Classic - Miss Agnes the Shih Tzu
- Can Ch. Symarun's Red Hot Kisses - Tyrone the Shih Tzu
- Can Ch. Exxel's Dezi Duz It With Pizaz - Rhapsody in White the Standard Poodle
Best in Show received critical acclaim. The film has a 94% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 112 reviews, with an average rating of 7.53/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "A fine example of writer/director/star Christopher Guest's gift for improv comedy, Best in Show boasts an appealingly quirky premise and a brilliantly talented cast". The film also has a score of 78 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". It won American, British, and Canadian Comedy Awards. The film is number 38 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies". In 2012 Best in Show won a spot on Yahoo's list of the "100 Funniest Movies to See Before You Die".
The film opened to a weekend gross of $413,436 to 13 theatres with an average of $31,802 per theater. After opening to a total of 497 theaters, the film ended its run with a domestic total of $18,715,392. The foreign gross of $2,074,164 brought its total gross revenue to $20,789,556.
- "Box Office Mojo". IMDb. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "CANCH, USCH Arokat Echobar Take Me Dancing NRD, NSD, V". weimaranerpedigrees.com. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
- Choron, Sandra; Choron, Harry (2005). Planet Dog: A Doglopedia. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). p. 47. ISBN 978-0-618-51752-7.
- Koehler, Robert (June 8, 2001). "Best In Show". Variety. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
- "Best In Show (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 2019-07-08.
- "Best In Show Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2018-03-06.
- "How the National Dog Show Won Thanksgiving". 2018-11-10.
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