Best in Show
"Oh, let's come up with an idea, do up an outline, and invite all our friends to film a movie in which they will simply improvise their lines."
Hey, I'm all for making fun of stuff, but shouldn't taunting things involve some actual work? Here's what writer/director Christopher Guest and writer Eugene Levy seem to think: "Oh, let's come up with an idea, do up an outline, and invite all our friends over to simply improvise their lines in front of the camera." When I tried to pass off an "outline" as a full paper in grade school, my teacher smacked me across the face with a ruler.
Writing is hard, and neither Guest nor Levy seem to have put much effort into "Best in Show," which is about the world of competitive dog shows. It's so obvious what happened here. Guest said, for example, to Parker Posey, "You play half of a neurotic couple and project all your problems onto your dog. Run with it!" How far did Parker have to run, really? However, the reason screenwriters actually sit down and figure out all the dialogue beforehand is that audiences tend to start gouging at their own abdomens with their car keys after five minutes of watching some mediocre comic improvise his or her way through a character. That's because while the idea may be funny, the actual words that come out of the actor's mouth seem more desperate than inspired.
Take the best stand-up comics, for instance. They do not simply make everything up while they're on stage, they just make it look like that's what they're doing. I guarantee they've spent hours and hours memorizing everything. So, most of what comes out of Harlan Pepper's (Guest) mouth is just babble. Same for Gerry Fleck (Levy) and his wife, Cookie (Catherine O'Hara). Same for the very gay handler Scott Donlan (John Michael Higgins) and his partner, Stefan Vanderhoof (Michael McKean). The only guy who's the least bit funny is the show's announcer, Buck Laughlin (Fred Willard) because obviously all his lines are scripted. You don't think Willard could come up with that stuff by himself, do you?
My best guess about Guest and Levy is that they thought that by having a good idea they could just roll the cameras with their comic friends and get lucky. Well, they couldn't.
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