Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara may currently be best known for their roles in award-guzzling Canadian sitcom Schitt’s Creek, but it isn’t the first time they’ve portrayed a dysfunctional – yet oddly lovable – married couple. Of their many collaborations with writer-director Christopher Guest, Best In Show is arguably the best and most beloved.
Released in 2004, the film is set at a fictional Philadelphia dog show called The Mayflower, heavily inspired by real-world events such as Crufts. The attention to detail is what really sets the film apart from more broad comedy vehicles, with a brilliant cast of seasoned improv comedians creating detailed character studies as the various oddball competitors.
Levy and O’Hara are the heart and soul of the film as Gerry and Cookie Fleck, whose devotion to their beloved terrier Winkie may or may not mask some insecurities around Cookies wild-girl past, of which they are frequently reminded by a seemingly endless parade of Cookie’s former lovers.
The other competitors exude equally complicated relationships, including Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Lynch as a lesbian poodle handler and her buxom sugar-mama, Michael Hitchcock and Parker Posey as a pair of stressed-out yuppies and Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins as a pair of flamboyant Shih Tzu breeders.
Guest himself also has a low-key role as a quiet but affable bloodhound breeder, while the late, great Fred Willard virtually steals the movie as an unfiltered and utterly unqualified commentator. The movie mostly sidesteps obvious jokes in favour of quiet character moments, but still wrings laugh-out loud moments virtually scene by scene.
In this week’s episode, we discuss our own dog owner personalities and break down our favourite moments from the film – including Eugene Levy’s literal two left feet, Jennifer Coolidge’s hilarious sham marriage, Catherine O’Hara’s seriously impressive leg work and much more.
We also check in with our listeners for their reactions to the film, brainstorm some drinking game ideas and pitch some sequels of our own. If you enjoy the episode, hit subscribe to receive a new episode every Monday morning. You can also leave us a review on your preferred podcatcher, which really helps us to attract new listeners.
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Next week, we’re going back to the nineties for a visually innovative retro comedy that helped launch two major Hollywood careers. Until then, happy listening, and please remember to spay and neuter your pets…