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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 1:14)
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    English, French, German, English - Hearing Impaired, German - Hearing Impaired
  • Deleted scenes
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
Best in Show
Warner Bros./Warner Bros. . R4 . COLOR . 87 mins . PG . PAL


Christopher Guest is the undisputed master of the ‘mockumentary’ with his previous films, This Is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman, becoming instant classics. For his latest opus, Best In Show, Guest turns his attention to the world of dog shows, creating one of the most scathing and hilarious satires of recent years.

It's time once again for the Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show, and dogs and their owners are converging from all over America to compete for the top honour. Best In Show documents the preparations and the tribulations of several entrants as they prepare for, travel to, and compete in, this highly prestigious event.

We are first introduced to Meg and Hamilton Swan (Parker Posey and Michael Hitchcock), a yuppie couple from Illinois who met at Starbucks and share a love of catalogues. Their weimaraner Beatrice is suffering a nervous breakdown after seeing them having sex. From Pine Nut, North Carolina comes a fishing store owner and part-time ventriloquist Harland Pepper (Guest) with his bloodhound Hubert. White-trash couple Gerry and Cookie Fleck (Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara) hail from Fern City, Florida where they write ditties for their terrier Winkie. Good-natured Gerry, born literally with two left feet, seems unable to escape his wife’s endless stream of former boyfriends. The flamboyant and very gay hairdressers Scott Donlan (John Michael Higgins) and Stefan Vanderhoof (Michael McKean) hail from New York with their immaculately coiffeured shih tzu Miss Agnes. Last, but not least, ageing trophy wife Sheri-Ann Ward Cabot (Jennifer Coolidge) and her gung-ho trainer Christy Cummings (Jane Lynch) are returning with their poodle Rhapsody In White after winning Best In Show for the past two years.

Like Guest’s previous films, the satire in Best In Show is biting and sharp. In fact, it eclipses Guest’s past efforts, and I say this as an avid fan of This Is Spinal Tap. With every new project, Guest seems to improve immeasurably. The films Guest writes are not only hilarious, they are scathing parodies that manage to avoid being the least bit mean-spirited. In particular, Best In Show displays a respect for, and knowledge of, its subject matter. It never resorts to cheap shots, with the humour derived from exaggerating the human qualities of its cast and not by satirising the subject. The resulting characters are all the more funny because they seem so very real; a formula (be it in a slightly different form) that has been the basis of the success of Australia’s own Working Dog (Rob Sitch et.al.).

This realism also stems from the fact that, quite remarkably, all the performances in Best in Show are improvised. Without a single line of dialogue pre-written, and working only from a loose scene breakdown, the actors perform the scenes unrehearsed as the cameras roll. Of course this kind of film-making requires an extraordinary cast, and Guest has assembled just that. The comedic performances are all equally superb - no one actor can be singled out - and it is a testament to their talent that Best In Show is much funnier than most scripted comedies.

There is no doubt that, for me, Best In Show is easily the best comedy release of 2001.


Presented on a single-sided dual layer disc at a ratio of 1.85:1, this is not a movie that's going to win any accolades for its video or audio. In keeping with the film's documentary style, cinematography takes a back seat with the film featuring a lot of hand-held camera work and at times dull locations - these are normal people living normal lives. Despite not being a visual masterpiece, Warner have done a great job with the video transfer and it displays all the technical attributes we have come to expect. We’re presented with an anamorphic image that exhibits plenty of detail, has spot on black level and great shadow detail. The colours are vivid and well balanced (when available). The image is very clean, and there are no compression artefacts to be seen.

The only problem worthy of note is the predominance of aliasing throughout the film. Thankfully, it's never bad enough to become distracting.

The soundtrack is also in keeping with documentary film style, with the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix remaining very low key. This is a very dialogue-centric film that doesn’t even have a score. Thankfully the dialogue is clear and distinct, and lip sync is not an issue. The centre channel is kept busy throughout the film, with the others seeing only limited use for the odd bit of ambient noise, most especially the party and crowd scenes.

The anamorphic menus are simple yet functional, with no animation or sound. In terms of extras, we are given a reasonable selection from Warner:

Writers Commentary: A great commentary from writers Guest and Levy. Although I expected more humour from these masters of improvisation, their comments are really interesting as they document many of the technical aspects involved in making this kind of film. This is a very nice companion piece that easily held my attention for the full 87 minutes.

Deleted Scenes: 30 minutes of deleted scenes (with optional commentary from Guest and Levy), that are just as funny as anything that made the final cut. One hilarious scene involves Harlan Pepper showing off his prized beach ball collection. The transfer for these scenes is comparable to the feature itself. In the optional commentary, Guest and Levy explain why the scenes needed to be cut.

Theatrical Trailer: Standard stuff here. The trailer, one of the funniest I’ve seen for a while, sports a fantastic anamorphic transfer at 1.85:1.

Cast and Crew: Two text pages listing the people involved in the production.

All in all, Best In Show has been given great treatment by Warner on its journey to DVD. The film looks and sounds exactly as the director intended, and a great set of extras nicely rounds out the presentation. If you are a fan of good comedy, then I highly recommend Best In Show.

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  •   And I quote...
    "...eclipses Guest’s previous efforts to deliver the funniest film of 2001. "
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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