235. Best in Show

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Movie: Best in Show

Release Date: September 29, 2000

Director: Christopher Guest

Starring: Jennifer Coolidge, Christopher Guest, John Michael Higgins, Michael Hitchcock, Eugene Levy, Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey.

Tag Lines: “Some pets deserve a little more respect than others.”

Relevance: At Thanksgiving. most people look forward to time spent with family and friends, the turkey and all of its side dishes, the desserts and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Well, I am not most people. With twenty-five years as a retail employee I didn’t get much time off around Thanksgiving which limited my time with family and friends. I am not a huge fan of turkey and I have a wheat allergy that keeps me from eating most of the traditional side dishes and desserts. (Although I will eat an entire gluten-free pumpkin pie in one siding if available.) And I despise parades. But I love, love, love the National Dog Show that airs that day. For me, that is what kicks off my holiday season.

I love household pets. When I say “pets” I do not in any way shape or form mean mice, rats, gerbils, spiders, lizards or snakes. Those are not pets. Those are evil creatures that were placed on our planet to cause fear, disease and chaos. No discussion. End of topic. So when I say I love household pets, I mean dogs, cats and fish. I never really owned a household pet myself. Growing up we had a black Labrador Retriever named “Bumper” for only six months. I named him that because when we got him as a puppy he kept “bumping” into all of our furniture as he got used to his new surroundings. Unfortunately, it is also what killed him as he was run over and killed by a hit and run driver that I happened to witness first hand. One might say that I laid out his destiny by naming him what I did. I was devastated and I vowed at an early age to never get attached to a pet again.

I kept that vow and have never owned another pet myself, but I am the first one to play with and pet all of my friends’ pets whenever I can. I have toyed with the idea of getting a cat, but my son is allergic, so that is not an option until he moves out. My husband and I did have a dog for one week a few years ago, but my husband became extremely allergic and we had to get rid of her. Macy. She was a good puppy. We only had her one week, but I again was devastated when we had to give her away. I get so attached so quickly. My son does have (had) two fish. We are sadly down to one. I visit, speak and sing (usually “Under the Sea”) to the fish everyday. So my love for animals is mostly lived vicariously through YouTube videos, gifs, memes and of course the National Dog Show.

I did not see ‘Best in Show’ when it was released in theaters in 2000. I was however a fan of Christopher Guest both as an actor and a director. This is his first of two films he directed to show up on my list of most influential films of all time. For some reason though, it kind of flew under my radar and I didn’t see it until after it was nominated for a Golden Globe award. When I finally did see it via rental, I fell immediately in love. The “mockumentary” style film with wonderful directing, hilarious ensemble improvisational acting and dog show setting was exactly what I needed at that point in my life. I remember laughing so much watching it, I had to rewind a few scenes just to see what I missed while I was composing myself. It was that funny.

In 2002, NBC started airing the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving afternoon and I have been watching every year since. And every year that I watch it, I am reminded of ‘Best in Show.’ Some years I even watch the movie afterwards. It is by no means a “holiday” movie and will make me laugh 365 days a year, but for me it is difficult not to think of Thanksgiving when I watch it.

Today’s Thoughts: “I didn’t ask for your opinion. I asked for a toy that you don’t have!”

‘Best in Show’ makes me feel absolute pure joy and I smiled from ear to ear the entire time it was on today. It’s so damn quirky and funny. Watching it, I couldn’t help but think how much fun these actors must have had while making it. The cast is beyond hysterical. Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy are the dynamic duo when it comes to acting. Their chemistry and timing is off the charts. Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, Michael Hitchcock, John Michael Higgins, Michael McKean, Parker Posey and of course Christopher Guest are equally superb. Some of Fred Willard’s lines though have to be my favorite:

“Tell me, do you know the difference between a rectal thermometer and a tongue depressor?”

“Um, no.”

“Remind me never to come to you for a physical!”

It really is a delightful cast. Improvisation for me is difficult. I am the kind of actor that needs a script. So to watch this movie knowing how much of it was improvised makes it even more glorious.

‘Best in Show’ has to be one of the funniest movies ever made. Twenty years later and I am still laughing at the silly over-the-top characters and scenarios to the point of tears. Christopher Guest and ensemble have created a brilliant comedy and the best part is, they will be back later this year in another unforgettable comedic gem. Until then, do yourself a favor and don’t wait until Thanksgiving, watch this film now.

Awards: Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Director, Christopher Guest (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Excellence in Film-making (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor, Fred Willard (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor, Fred Willard (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Christopher Guest, Eugene Levy (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.

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