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This week:

Best in Show

Filthy says:
"They're making us laugh, Doggy-Style."


Being unemployed isn't nearly as hard as it sounds. After getting my ass canned like a ham at the Family Dollar, mine has been the life of leisure. Like the rich, I can wake when I want, shit when I want, and drink as much as I want. In fact, I've finally been able to drink to the levels I set as a goal years ago, and I've found a beer that is almost cheaper than the recycle value of the aluminum it comes in. I'm practically getting paid to drink.

When I was working, I could not afford to black out, but now I can and there are huge chunks of the last week when I don't have the slightest fucking clue where I was or what I did. All I know is my Galaxie has some hair caught in the grill, and it's not mine. The stories that car could tell, huh?

I was sober Friday night, though, because that's Mrs. Filthy and my "Family Night." That usually means putting hats on the dogs and pretending they know how to play Monopoly, but this week we saw Best in Show, a dog-show comedy that is way better than blacking out and waking up with poop in your pants, even for a guy who really likes doing that.

Best in Show is the latest fake documentary (mockumentary is a really fucking lame word, like Rocktober or Synergy) from Christopher Guest, with writing help from the funniest man alive, Eugene Levy. Guest previously made Waiting for Guffman and was one of the four men who made the funniest flick ever, This is Spinal Tap. Best in Show follows five dogs and their owners as they enter the Mayflower Dog Show, one of those high-falutin' scams for people who spent a shitload of money on some purebred dog and want to show it off. People who buy show dogs make about as much sense to me as those fuckers who buy 1967 Pontiac GTOs and never drive them. Dogs are made for rough-housing, even little dogs. But little dogs should be rough-housed by midgets so they don't get hurt.

Guest is Harlan Pepper, an aspiring ventriloquist with a Bloodhound named Hubert. Guest often speaks for his dog. Eugene Levy is a man who literally has two left feet, and his wife Catherine O'Hara is a reformed slut who keeps running into men she's slept with but doesn't remember. Levy and O'Hara have written many touching ballads to their Terrier. Michael McKean and John Michael Higgins are a gay couple with a pampered Shihtzu. Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock are a hyper yuppie couple who channel their love and hate through their Weimaraner. And Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Lynch are a wealthy woman and her poodle's trainer, who reveal their lesbian relationship at the Mayflower.

The Mayflower is presided over by two television announcers, one is a dog aficionado and the other is Fred Willard, a doltish American more familiar with baseball than dogs. He makes incredibly inappropriate sexual references and analogies, like interrupting his partner to say he would not want to date a judge he believes spends too much time feeling around the balls of the dogs.

There is little plot to Best in Show, but that's okay. What the loose premise does is give really fucking funny people room to screw around, and I laughed more than when my Uncle got the faulty prosthetic leg and kept falling down. These are amazing improv actors and it makes me glad to see middle-aged people be so fucking hilarious. Usually, Hollywood doesn't know what to do with middle-aged people because they're too old to be sexy or hip, and too young to be in one of those offensive "Grumpy Old Men" turds.

Bad screenwriters everywhere take note: this movie works because the characters are deeper than cardboard, and the jokes come from their depth. They are not just props for fart jokes and lame sexual innuendo. In fact, the times this movie isn't funny is when it stoops to obvious and cheap jokes, like a dog humping a psychologist's leg or the lesbians making out.

Most of the stories work, and a couple don't. The best is Levy and O'Hara. Levy is the most underused comic actor in America. In Best in Show he gets the screentime he deserves. His nebbish suburbanite is sad, helpless and stupidly optimistic. Yet, whenever he was on screen, I was happy. For God's sake, the poor guy had to get special therapy to learn how not to walk in circles. Fred Willard is also fan-fucking-tastic as the idiot broadcaster who just can't shut up. He hates the dogs and is bored out of his fucking skull. He can't resist commenting "This judge sure is taking a long time," during every single round of competition. Guest also gets off some good gags as the sweet southerner, especially when he tries to use his dog as his ventriloquist dummy.

Posey and Hitchcock also get in some good digs at yuppies, a target I will never tire of seeing abused. They're more interested in where a jacket was bought than another person, and they love catalog shopping because they don't have to talk to anyone. At points, though, their story is shrill and screechy, and Posey and Hitchcock get a little too annoying. I suppose, though, that's what yuppies do behind closed doors when other people are screwing.

The lesbian story didn't hold my attention, and it's not just because they didn't get it on, 69-style, although that would have at least perked me up. The characters were too cold to be funny, and they weren't as well-developed as Levy and O'Hara. The gay couple also didn't have anything to do. They got along, treated their dog well, and were happy with the story's outcome. Their gags were mostly the same old "aren't gays flamboyant" kind that are pretty stale.

Overall, Best in Show is four fingers. It's hit and miss, but when it hits, man, oh, man did it make this unemployed slob laugh.

I should tell you that I also took the Greyhound bus out to Los Angeles. Last week, some very nice people at interviewed me on the air and that was pretty fun. The bus ride was one finger. You can listen to the interview if you have an hour and you have absolutely nothing better to do.

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