Sunday, June 12, 2016

DVD Review: Best in Show (dogs, spoof, dog shows)

Best in Show (Warner Home Video DVD, $12.99, 2000, 89 minutes, rated PG-13)

Best in Show in Review

Has your family seen Best in Show? Ready to see it again?

Our family loves movies. We actually went to 10 in one week – before the Age of DVDs. So, being the good dog people that we are, when we heard that Best in Show was going to open, for the first time in our lives we went to see it on opening day in 2000. Oops!

Long-Awaited Much-Anticipated Afternoon Spoiled

Best in Show (BIS) tries so hard to be funny.

If only it had a real plot, perhaps with a rescue dog who goes on to win BIS, or a 19-year-old formerly homeless handler or high-school drop-out who wins – or even  a lovable ex-con or a handler from Syria (if the movie were made today).

Instead, it is slapstick after slapstick with lots of non-funniness in between – too much non-funniness. Amazon agrees with this reviewer: their reviews are all over the map from 1 to 5 stars.

‘Real’ Characters

Characters, however, are real characters, especially Cookie, a total looker married to Gerry. Our couple continually runs into Cookie’s old flames as they travel across country from Florida to the big dog show in Pennsylvania – flames from her wild high-school days. Everyone seems to have known Cookie and most knew her in the Biblical sense. Nevertheless, she is almost real and a really lovable person, perhaps the sole one.

In second place is the delightfully daffy dog show commentator who knows nothing about dogs - really not a prerequisite, however, if one’s questions are spot-on. However, our color commentator wonders if the bloodhound might win if he were to dress like Sherlock Holmes, with pipe and hat; and questions if German breeds and French breeds bark differently; and remarks that one handler seems to – no, actually HAS - two left feet (our lovable Cookie’s husband); and of course relates that the Mayflower landed in Philadelphia which is why the hotel is there! Duh!

And Some Real People

And I have to hand it to them – the handlers actually look good, taking their dogs around the show ring. It turns out the ‘movie stars’ took showmanship classes for two weeks in preparation. And the judges look very professional. (I found out later that only two of the judges are not judges in real life, so, of course, they seemed authentic. Good casting.)

Dog Family Fun

Do you have a dog? Or kids? Have you ever been to a dog show or seen one on TV? Then you might be interested in Best in Show (BIS).

BIS is a spoof on dog shows and the people who show dogs, especially hilarious for the ‘kid crowd’ due to the humungous number of slapstick jokes that adults will groan at. Fortunately, the sexual innuendos simply pass over the heads of the younger set. (Listen carefully, Mom and Dad.) Or can also be taken naively.

Was it Improvised? Was it All Improvised?

In a nutshell, conversations and interviews of the five ‘families’ are shown in their hometowns followed by the dogs coming together in Philadelphia for the show and concluding with updates six months later.

Starting out too slowly, the movie picked up speed as showtime approached. Conversations and interviews can be an excellent method of insight into one’s soul and experiencing their innermost thoughts and feelings, and even fights - this bizarre collection is no exception.

Y2K It Isn’t

The year 2000 is the 125th showing of the Mayflower Kennel Club dog show (not the Westminster) in Philadelphia (not New York City). The colors of the Mayflower dog show are blue and yellow (not purple and gold). And the dogs stay at the Taft Hotel not the Hotel Pennsylvania. However, there are nearly as many dogs – about 3000, but we simply do not see the crowds in the hotel lobby or behind the scenes at the show.

I suspect the ‘dog boxes’ were borrowed directly from the Westminster Kennel Club – same color, same size. Backstage, in the grooming area, see if you can spy the small sign, Domestic Canine Appearance Technician.

With only five dog stars and five owners/owner couples, I was wondering how the dog show itself would be portrayed. Dog shows include seven breed groups and only five have canine participants in the movie – it turns out a Husky and Pointer (probably real champions) were included to round out the field.

Caveat: DogEvals purchases products for review unless otherwise stated. This DVD was borrowed from the public library.

Tomorrow: More on Best in Show

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