Just finished watching the newest Christopher Guest movie which (if I’m not mistaken) he just released directly onto Netflix instead of showing in theaters at all, which if you saw For Your Consideration was probably a good idea.
This world was constructed a lot like Best In Show, a competition people have traveled to attend & compete in, except instead of showing dogs they are all mascots of some kind. I think the world was fun and gave them a lot to play with, there were lots of tropes/archetypal characters I saw: fighting husband & wife couple (also a lot like Best In Show), a son who’s carrying on a family tradition, a “bad boy” who doesn’t really care, a dancer type who takes everything very seriously and considers it all “art,” etc.
Um, overall I thought there were interesting and funny parts, but it just seemed to be following a formula and I felt a lot of people were underused. So many people who we’ve seen do amazing nuanced comedy acting in his films in the past seemed kind of shoehorned and lost in the shuffle. For example, Jennifer Coolidge who is such an interesting actress and pretty unlike anyone else was a trophy wife again (remember Best In Show?) and she really only has one speaking scene, an interview with her rich husband where they’re talking about why she doesn’t leave him (he bought her a baseball team!) and then the only other shots of her are crowd reaction shots during the final competition (which were very funny and she did an amazing job with what she was given, it just kind of seems like she was given scraps).
Aside from Parker Posey and Susan Yeagley (who was my favorite part of the whole movie!!) not that many women were really centered/utilized. Even Jane Lynch who has become (well really always been, she just got more famous) a comedy powerhouse in the years since the original Guest movies, was a pretty stereotypical snobby judge: vying for the spotlight, thinks she’s better than everyone else. I thought Parkey Posey and Susan Yeagley’s thread (sisters Cindi and Laci Babineaux) was the best part of the movie and yielded some really honest and funny moments. One of my favorite scenes was when they’re in an airport going to the competition and they’re telling how they found out they were sisters, and the interplay between the two actresses is really amazing- very supportive and quick, nuanced and funny. There’s also a scene later where Cindi came to wish Laci good luck and watch her (after Cindi got too sick from sushi and had to drop out) and Laci calls out to her, “I love that you came” and it’s not funny it’s just real. Writing this, I’m remembering so many more moments between the two of them that I loved (Cindi wants to go get food and Laci says “anything you want!” but balks at the mention of sushi, but quickly agrees after Cindi informs her, “they have fried stuff”).
The husband and wife pair (Zach Woods and Sarah Baker) were both individually very funny but didn’t really have chemistry together or interesting routes to take- all the jokes were kind of predictable. He cheated on her 5 years ago with Cindi Babineaux, and always looks at other women. At the end of the movie when they do the “One Year Later” checkup on all the characters, they seem to be changed and happy then he looks at the pretty young nanny (his wife specifies he hired) for a long time. It’s just kind of tired and old. I remember that actor from the later seasons of The Office and he was so interesting to watch, I really liked the stuff he was doing and this kind of felt like anyone could have done it and it would have been the same.
There were two black people in the whole movie, I know because I counted, including crowd scenes. So, that.
John Michael Higgins who is SO funny, and I just saw him be funny in Pitch Perfect 2, again had basically one or two scenes of talking, where he said some things that were funny? I just finished watching the movie 4 minutes ago and I literally can’t remember anything his character says. I know he’s some kind of TV exec? He had a protege (Maria Blasucci) and she was interesting, I wanted to see more of her. Her acting was really subtle and felt very dynamic in a quiet way. I’m excited to see her in more things.
Um, the performances in the Mascot competition were funny sometimes? There was an opening one with a pencil and a pencil sharpener from India that was funny in an uncomfortable way that I liked. They seemed to be trying to do something with race- there was a scene where Cindi’s participation was in question because her school’s mascot (The Leapin Armadillo) used to be the Squaws, then they had a whole scene where 3 white people discussed the use of the word squaw and if it was offensive or not. I liked that this angle was introduced, there was also a thematic side note of “Furries” who had infiltrated the hotel and were trying to have sex with the mascots? It’s interesting to think about all the plagues of the mascot community and some are truly interesting but they just weren’t presented in a full enough way to be successful in my opinion. Like, they could have really done something with either of these topics instead they just entered and exited with the same base knowledge we all had going in-just acknowledged that those things exist, then left them.
There was a man who was a hedgehog mascot which his father and grandfather had been before him and his whole storyline seemed to be about pushing the boundaries and getting acceptance from his father for doing so, and it’s just like, how many times have we seen someone in a competition who wants to buck their mentor to add a “new” element to their performance that clashes with tradition but then they do it because they believe in themselves and they win? Well, he did it and he won.
I don’t know, it feels like I’m being really harsh. I’m not asking him to reinvent the comedy wheel but when you have such a cast of talented actors who have been doing this for more than 16 years now, you should let them play more. It felt like the characters didn’t have room to play.
I’m glad I watched it, and it was definitely better than For Your Consideration, but overall, not the level that I would expect from him. Christopher Guest seems in kind of a slump and I want him to do a comedy with Darren Aronofsky. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? They’re both good at creating these worlds and I think a dark comedy from them would be cool. Can someone let them know? Thank you.
5 out of 8 sushis, would not masturbate again.