Best in Show (film)

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Best in Show
BestInShow2000.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChristopher Guest
Written byChristopher Guest
Eugene Levy
Produced byGordon Mark
Karen Murphy
Starring
CinematographyRoberto Schaefer
Edited byRobert Leighton
Music byC. J. Vanston
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • September 29, 2000 (2000-09-29)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$10 million[1]
Box office$20.8 million[1]

Best in Show is a 2000 American mockumentary comedy film co-written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy and directed by Guest. The film follows five entrants in a prestigious dog show as they travel to the show and compete once there. 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.

Plot[edit]

Five dogs and their owners, trainers and handlers travel to Philadelphia to compete in the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show.

Gerry and Cookie Fleck are a middle-class couple from Florida who arrive at the Taft Hotel with their Norwich Terrier Winky. After having forgotten to pay their credit card bill and short of cash, they are forced to sleep in the hotel's storage room. While traveling to the show, they encounter several of Cookie’s former lovers who kiss her passionately and try to seduce her, making Gerry jealous. To Gerry's chagrin, they continue to cross paths with Cookie's paramours after the show ends.

Meg and Hamilton Swan, a stereotypical yuppie couple from a Chicago suburb, arrive with their Weimaraner Beatrice. Their constant doting and neurotic behavior toward Beatrice—for example, taking their dog to a psychotherapist after she sees them having sex in a position they learned from the Kama Sutra—confuses and upsets Beatrice. The Swans lose Beatrice's favorite toy and frantically search for a replacement before the show starts, but are unable to find one. When Beatrice performs poorly and is removed by a judge for unruly behavior, they blame it on the lost toy.

Harlan Pepper, the Southern owner of a fishing goods store and an aspiring ventriloquist, arrives with his Bloodhound Hubert. Harlan is an affable, good-natured man who prides himself on being able to name every type of nut. The Pepper family has raised a variety of hounds for generations; Harlan continues the tradition by raising Bloodhounds.

Sherri Ann Cabot is the plump, buxom, overly-made-up trophy wife of the elderly Leslie Ward Cabot, her sugar daddy. A former two-time winner of the show, Sherri Ann receives help with her Standard Poodle Rhapsody in White, also known as Butch, from her taskmaster trainer Christy Cummings. Christy is an extremely competitive handler who makes sure the dog is prepared for the show. A no-nonsense, short-haired lesbian, she resists Sherri Ann's attempts at giving her a beauty makeover. Leslie is oblivious to Christy and Sherri Ann's romantic involvement — as well as everything else happening around him.

Scott Donlan and Stefan Vanderhoof are a campy gay couple who take great pride in their Shih Tzu Miss Agnes. They 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 dog show is hosted by dog expert Trevor Beckwith and oblivious "color" commentator Buck Laughlin, whose inane banter annoys Beckwith. During the first round, Beatrice is disqualified when she becomes aggressive and Hamilton cannot control her. 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 despite his two left feet (the result of a birth defect). Though Gerry is nervous, Winky ultimately takes Best in Show.

After the competition, Gerry and Cookie return home to Florida and enjoy brief fame there. While in a studio recording novelty songs about terriers, they discover that the recording engineer is yet another of Cookie's ex-lovers, to Gerry's unending frustration. Christy and Sherri Ann, now openly in a relationship (Leslie's fate is unclear), publish American Bitch, a magazine for lesbian owners of purebred dogs. After spending weeks on a kibbutz, Harlan fulfills his dream of being a ventriloquist, entertaining sparse crowds with a honky tonk song-and-dance number. Stefan and Scott design a calendar featuring Shih Tzu dogs in costume appearing in scenes from classic films such as Casablanca and Gone with the Wind. Meg and Hamilton Swan are visibly happier together after replacing Beatrice with a pug named Kipper, which they claim enjoys watching them make love.

Cast[edit]

Actors[edit]

Dogs[edit]

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".[2]

  • 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 (Butch) the Standard Poodle[3]

Production[edit]

Filming took place in Vancouver and Los Angeles. In a 2000 interview, Christopher Guest reflected, "Originally, we thought it would be easier to go to an actual dog show and film there, but nobody would let us do that."[4] Eugene Levy adds that, "We actually had to stage our own dog show. And that's where the nightmare started. We literally had to put everything together from scratch, get somebody to organize the whole show, get the dogs in, find trainers and so forth."[4]

The greater part of the film was improvised by the actors, with little to no planning. 60 hours of footage were filmed, as was the case with Guest's previous mockumentary Waiting for Guffman.[5] Levy said that, "There is a much wider appeal for this movie than for Waiting for Guffman, which was a funny movie and a funny premise but not as accessible as this film, which is more mainstream. People just love dogs."[4]

Reception[edit]

Best in Show received critical acclaim. The film has a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 115 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. 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".[6] The film also has a score of 78 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[7] 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.[1]

Legacy[edit]

Best in Show was the inspiration for the broadcast of the National Dog Show, which has aired each Thanksgiving on NBC since 2002.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Box Office Mojo". IMDb. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  2. ^ "CANCH, USCH Arokat Echobar Take Me Dancing NRD, NSD, V". weimaranerpedigrees.com. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
  3. ^ Choron, Sandra; Choron, Harry (2005). Planet Dog: A Doglopedia. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH). p. 47. ISBN 978-0-618-51752-7.
  4. ^ a b c "Best in Show : Production Notes".
  5. ^ Koehler, Robert (June 8, 2001). "Best In Show". Variety. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  6. ^ "Best In Show (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 2021-06-17.
  7. ^ "Best In Show Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2018-03-06.
  8. ^ "How the National Dog Show Won Thanksgiving". 2018-11-10.

External links[edit]