Best in Show (2000)
Eugene Levy and Catherine O’ Hara as Gerry and Cookie Fleck
Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock as Meg and Hamilton Swan
Christopher Guest as Harlan Pepper
Jennifer Coolidge and Patrick Cranshaw as Sherri Ann and Leslie Ward
Jane Lynch as Christy Cummings
John Michael Higgins and Michael McKean as Scott Donlan and Stefan Vanderhoof
Jim Piddock as Trevor Beckwith
Fred Willard as Buck Laughlin
Directed by Christopher Guest
Best in Show is an improvised satire of dog shows and the people who take their canines there. According to certain people with whom I have discussed this movie and who are in a position to know, it is also an accurate depiction of some dog people.
This film is the story of couples, each of which takes a dog to the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gerry and Cookie Fleck, a middle-class couple, travel from Florida, meeting several of Cookie’s former lovers. The Fleck’s pride is their Norwich Terrier, Winky. Gerry and Cookie adore each other, and Cookie assures her husband that he is her present-day love. Nevertheless, the multitude of his wife’s previous lovers bothers Gerry.
Above: Eugene Levy (as Gerry Fleck) and Catherine O’Hara (as Cookie Fleck) with Winky
Meg and Hamilton Swan, stereotypical yuppie lawyers who met at different Starbucks locations across the street from each other, obsess over their Weimaraner, Beatice. The opening scene of the movie is Beatrice’s dog therapy session. She became depressed after seeing Meg and Hamiltion try a sexual technique from the Kama Sutra. “I’m sorry you had so see that,” Meg tells the unresponsive Beatrice at the doggie shrink’ s office.
Above: Parker Posey (as Meg Swan) with Beatrice
Above: Parker Posey (as Meg Swan) and Michael Hitchcock (as Hamilton Swan)
Harlan Pepper, of North Carolina, takes his beloved bloodhound, Hubert, to Philadelphia. Pepper is a good-natured, if slightly obsessive, dog person who imagines what Hubert might be saying to him. Pepper is also a very amateur ventriloquist.
Above: Christopher Guest (as Harlan Pepper) with Hubert the bloodhound
Sherri Ann Ward is a buxom scatterbrain who married elderly Leslie Ward, who in nearly dead, for his money. She and Christy Cummings, a dog trainer, show a poodle named Rhapsody in White. Leslie is a secondary character, seen mostly in background scenes, being pushed in his wheelchair.
Above: Patrick Cranshaw (as Leslie Ward) and Jennifer Coolidge (as Sherri Ann Ward) with Rhapsody in White
Above: Jane Lynch (as Christy Cummings) and Jennifer Coolidge (as Sherri Ann Ward) with Rhapsody in White
Scott Donlan and Stefan Vanderhoof are proud owners of two shih tzus, one of which they show in Philadelphia. The dogs, which they dress up for movie-themed calendars, are their children.
Above: Michael McKean (as Stefan Vanderhoof), John Michael Higgins (as Scott Donlan) and the shih tzus
The television announcers for the dog show are Trevor Beckwith (an author of books about canines) and Buck Laughlin (an idiot who makes irrelevant and inappropriate comments). Beckwith tries to tolerate Laughlin.
Above: Fred Willard (as Buck Laughlin) and Jim Piddock (as Trevor Beckwith)
Christopher Guest, as a film maker, does not seem to have a proverbial mean bone in his body. As in Waiting for Guffman before this and in A Mighty Wind and For Your Consideration after this, the satire is always gentle yet pointed. Guest depicts human foibles accurately and to great comic effect without degrading any of his characters. And he does so hilariously.