Best in Show
Director: Christopher Guest

Director: Adam McKay

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Best in Show Sometimes pure laziness induces me to watch whatever movie is on television, though dvds are piled up waiting to be watched.

Especially if the next five films on the pile are serious things requiring a lot of attention & I'm feeling more like spacing out, I'm apt to kick back with whatever escapist thing is on the telly.

When I saw that Best of Show (2000) was going to air, I remembered it as one of the best-ever of Christopher Guest's documentary-like comedies, & decided to watch it anew.

A lovingly done poker-faced satire on dog shows, Best in Show has a sharp & genuine sense of humor in a manner that captures the eccentricities of members of the upper echelons of dog exhibitions.

It manages a perfect balance of comedic lampoon & respect for these peoples' oddball lives & their pageant culture. Some of the most outrageous scenes -- as when Eugene Levie & Catherine O'Hara sing an ode to their dog -- were all too familiar to me, as I write a new song almost every week about my dog as I walk him on his territorial marking tours.

A brilliant script & finely edited without a single wasted scene; wonderfully acted by a perfect cast of Guest's usual suspects plus Parker Posey & Michael Hitchock. The end result is a film that just oozes charm, charm, charm. This absurdist peep into the lives of dog fanatics is a hoot & a howl.

Anchorman: The Legend But watching whatever comedy is on the telly is not often that rewarding. I truly wasted my time bothering with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgunday (2004).

Set in the 1970s for the sake of dumb hair styles, Ron (Will Ferrell) is a number one regional tv star, the top rated newscaster coming to you from a highly cartoony television newsroom in San Diego.

As a comedy it's largely innocuous, short on laughs & long on foolishness, though no worse & perhaps slightly better than nine-tenths of the meritless comedies from the Saturday Night Live alumni's "APL" (assinine production line).

This film's idea of a joke is Burgundy wearing a jacket that is burgundy colored. It don't get much funnier than that, though I'll admit to laughing at the peepee joke for Sex Panther Cologne.

And when Jack Black as an angry motorcyclist kicks Ron's dog Baxter off a bridge, a sub-story about the adventures of Baxter in the forest is the best part of the movie, in great part because the human cast is jettisoned for a few scenes.

Baxter is by far the best character in the film, though Steve Carell as the mentally retarded weather reporter comes so close to being like every actual weather reporter on tv that I have to give him a grudging nod.

The station's new diversity requirement brings in Veronica (Christina Applegate) onto the show. Her competence is a massive threat to the established newsroom team, so Ron's worshipful buddies instantly hate her.

What begins as a hate-hate relationship turns to love. Though Ron in his best moment is about as sexy as a long dead dog's maggoty corpse, Veronica nevertheless falls in love with him apparently because he plays a pretty mean flute.

So this slapstick fiasco is supposed to be a romantic comedy. The least said about that never-credible pairing the better.

The secondary "plot" ingredient is mined no better for laughs. Wes Mantooth (Vince Vaughn) has the number two news program in the city. He travels about town with his rival news team. Ron vs Wes's teams are like ultra-childish junior highschool nerd-gangs.

The performances are better than the jokes but that's not saying a thing. The "big" scene of the show is when all the "gangs" (newsroom casts from sundry San Diego stations, including Tim Robbins as the leader of the public television news team) get together for a "rumble."

Wake Up Ron BurgundayAfter the "comedy" kung fu & West Side Story battle, it all closes with the "happy" ending for the babe Veronica & the maggoty dog Ron.

Released about the same time as the feature film, but direct to video, Wake Up Ron Burgundy: The Lost Movie; aka, Anchorman: Wake Up Ron Burgundy (2004) is tricked out from out-takes & discarded subplot footage or alternate takes. It ultimately became part of a boxed set of both films plus extras.

That it's a mess is fine when you know why it's a mess. It's less funny than the theatrical feature but Will Ferrell certainly has his fans, for whom the least hint of sophisticated wit is taboo, & in that regard Wake up Ron Burgundy won't disappoint.

It manages a plot of sorts, about Ron & Veronica investigating nutty politically-motivated bank robbers reminiscent of the Symbionese Lberation Army. If the main feature struck someone as simply hilarious, that's who needs to see the ad hoc secondary feature.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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