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BEST IN SHOW ($25) is a wonderfully funny lampoon of the dog show circuit, featuring various pedigree canines and their even more highly-strung owners. This is mockumentary filmmaking at its best, with a group of high powered comic actors improvising their way through the story-line laid out for them by director/co-writer Christopher Guest and co-writer Eugene Levy. BEST IN SHOW takes us on the road, where we meet the people whose blue-blooded canine companions will be competing in the Mayflower Kennel Club's annual dog show. As the competitors make their way to the show, the audience bares witness to bad behavior, tantrums and the strange mating habits of the owners- the dogs themselves actually seem pretty normal by comparison. BEST IN SHOW is offbeat and very funny thanks to the performances of Christopher Guest, Parker Posey, Michael Hitchcock, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, John Michael Higgins, Michael McKean, Patrick Cranshaw, Jennifer Coolidge, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, Bob Balaban, Don Lake, Jim Piddock, Fred Willard and Ed Begley Jr..

Warner Home Video has made BEST IN SHOW available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. BEST IN SHOW has the look of a documentary that was shot on 16mm and then blown up to 35mm for theatrical presentation. This is not to say that BEST IN SHOW looks bad, just a little rough edged when compared to higher budget fare. For the most part, the image is reasonably crisp and clean, although there is a bit more grain than one would find in an "A" production. Colors are somewhat less saturated than they appear in higher budget films, but they are solid and completely stable. Flesh tones look just fine. Blacks appear reasonably accurate, while the flat documentary lighting keeps the image from having impressive depth. Clean dual layer authoring keeps digital compression artifacts at bay throughout the presentation.

Although BEST IN SHOW does include a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack, the mix is primarily monaural. Like any documentary that features people talking for its entire length, the center channel sees ninety nine percent of the activity. Left-right stereo sound effects are few and far between; additionally, surround usage would rate as non-existent. Perhaps a bit of music creeps into the outlying channels. Still, for what it is, the sound mix sounds fine. The dialogue is clean and fully intelligible, and that's all that counts. Believe it or not, a French 5.1 channel soundtrack is also included, as are English and French subtitles.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some nice extras. Director/co-writer Christopher Guest and co-writer Eugene Levy are on hand for an interesting running audio commentary. Since these are two funny guys, I was expecting a funny commentary- boy was I wrong. It's a rather subdued talk with the participants laying out what they were trying to accomplish with the film, as well as expressing their respect for performers who were improvising their way through the film- especially the actors that don't come from that particular discipline. Also included on the DVD are seventeen deleted scenes that can be viewed with out without filmmaker commentary. There is some very funny stuff amongst the deleted scenes, so if you liked the film, be sure to check out the good stuff that got cut to trim the running time. A theatrical trailer and filmographies close out the extras.

BEST IN SHOW is a howl of a movie and no dog of a DVD. If you are a fan, or are mildly curious about this offbeat movie, make sure you check out the DVD.


Best in Show


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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