Running Time: 89 minutes
Director: Christopher Guest
Featuring: Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, Christopher Guest, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge
“Mascots” is Christopher Guests return to a genre he helped make famous – the mockumentary – with “This is Spinal Tap” (1984) and his last attempt at it, the excellent and underrated “A Mighty Wind” (2011).
I really wanted to love “Mascots” but I am not sure what the point of it was, it was similar to “Best in Show” (2005), in that it revolves around a competition, this time replacing the owners and dogs with people and the mascots they perform as, and early on I thought it was a great idea, but by the end I wish he had gone in another direction – at least a funnier more even direction. Maybe we have all been spoilt by Guests excellent work and the bar is so high that he sometimes sets himself up for failure. It must be difficult being a true comedy legend, he has had his hand in so much success that it can be a mighty long way to drop.
The story focuses on a best of the best mascot competition where contestants come from around the world to compete for the Golden Fluffy the top award. We follow their stories from their hometowns to their eventual fate in the competition, pretty straight forward really – I have to admit I was waiting for a surprise throughout the film – but no it is as simple as it sounds.
This film really misses the presence of stalwarts Harry Shearer (although he does voice the announcer), Eugene Levy, and Catherine O’Hara. It particularly misses Levy, who is the credited co-writer on Guests best films – “Best in Show”(2000), “A Mighty Wind”(2003) and “Waiting for Guffman”(1996) – and has been replaced by Jim Piddick, an English TV writer who has a role in this film as well. The effect on the movie for my mind is that Levy was a master improviser, and had been doing it for decades whereas Piddick has a background in scripted television programs, a far cry from Guests normal collaborators.
The standout for me in this film is Parker Posey who has always been the X-Factor in all of Guests films and is that here, we see her practicing her moves and talking at the same time about the importance of dance and her mascot to her – she is a complete natural. It is a shame the rest of the cast is so aimless – other standouts are of course Ed Begley Jnr and Jane Lynch as warring judges who are at different levels of fame, something I am sure they can both appreciate.
When I had first heard of this project I was excited but watching it made me feel a little sad for Guest who seemed to be trudging through the material as if it were a job and not something he was truly enjoying.
I would only recommend this to completists of Guests work and to all others steer clear it is not a good example of his best work.
If you have missed these watch now:
“Waiting for Huffman” (1996)
“Best in Show” (2000)
“A Mighty Wind” (2003)