Follow TV Tropes


Film / Best in Show

Go To

"Some pets deserve a little more respect than others."

A 2000 mockumentary film directed by Christopher Guest, written by Eugene Levy with Guest co-writing, and co-starring, besides Guest and Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, John Michael Higgins, Michael Hitchcock, Jane Lynch, Michael McKean, Catherine O'Hara and Parker Posey.

The movie follows five dogs and their owners who enter the annual Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show, and the unique relationship the people have with their dogs and with one another. Best in Show features a heavily improvised script that results in some wild tangents concerning everything from red pistachio nuts to a grisly description of a body being flung off a skyscraper.


This movie demonstrates the following tropes:

  • Anything That Moves: Scott at least hints at this trope, as he doesn't hesitate to ogle or flirt with anyone who catches his eye, despite being in a relationship with his partner Stefan.
    Hotel Manager: "We have you down for a queen [bed]."
    Scott: "What are you suggesting... my dear man?"
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Trevor Beckwith, the prim and properly British co-host to Buck Laughlin.
    Buck: "Am I nuts? Something's wrong with his feet."
    Trevor: "I never thought I'd find myself saying this, but you're right."
  • Big Damn Kiss: Christy and Sheri Ann share one after Rhapsody In White wins best of her group.
  • Book-Ends: The film begins and ends with the Swans talking to a therapist about their problems with their dog.
  • Brick Joke: Gerry's two left feet.
  • Camp Gay: Scott Donlan. By contrast, his partner Stefan is more of a Straight Gay.
  • Advertisement:
  • Chekhov's Gun The scene in the Taft Hotel's utility closet seems unmotivated until Cookie and Gerry are later housed there.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The Swans. Though truth be told, all of the featured characters have varying degrees of cuckoolandedness.
  • Cuckoolander Commentator: Buck Laughlin, the ex-football player announcer.
  • The Dandy: Scott Donlan, who is always elaborately dressed, hand-makes his own leather pants, and packs seven kimonos for an overnight trip.
    Buck: "Look at Scott! ...if you live in my neighborhood and you're dressed like that, you'd better be a hotel doorman."
  • The Ditz: Buck Laughlin, in the context of dogs and dog shows, at least; his amiable enthusiasm for the events he's witnessing is matched only by his utterly cluelessness about the events he's witnessing. Although even taking into account his Fish out of Water position, he doesn't exactly seem like the brightest bulb in the box. And particularly since an offhand comment by Trevor Beckwith reveals that they hosted the show together the previous year—and Buck apparently managed to learn nothing.
    • Laughlin demonstrates idiocy in a variety of other areas as well, such as when he confuses Columbus' 1492 landing in the Caribbean with the Pilgrim migration to Massachussets.
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: In her search for Beatrice's missing dog toy, Meg harangues the Taft Hotel's Hispanic maid.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Occurs right before the final judging of the Dog Show when Cookie falls and injures her knee, requiring Gerry to take her place as Winky's handler.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • "Bitch" is the actual term for a female dog. When writing the script, Guest and Levy milked this for all it was worth.
    • Announcer Buck Laughlin just loves to say "shih tzu" on the air.
  • Giftedly Bad:
    • The Flecks, who compose and sing songs about terriers to their dog Winky. What they lack in talent they make up for in obliviousness.
    • Harlan Pepper's ventriloquism act.
  • Hidden Depths: It's made pretty clear that, to varying degrees, each of the couples has thrown themselves whole-heartedly into the dog show and training their dog as a way of compensating for or avoiding some other tension or problem in their lives.
  • Improv: Guest has his actor improv from general outlines; where the scene starts and where it needs to get to is fixed, but the rest is up to the actors.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Cookie is the female version. She can't go anywhere without bumping into someone she's had sex with, but she settled down and married a goofy, straight-laced guy, whom she seems to genuinely love.
  • Large Ham Announcer: They make the dog show even funnier, as they're an Odd Couple - one a genteel English dog-breeding expert and the other a desperately misplaced American Football commentator.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Sherri Ann, as revealed when she plants a kiss on Rhapsody In White's much more butch trainer.
  • Literal Metaphor: In their first interview Cookie and Gerry joke about his inability to dance and mention his "two left feet" — and the camera pans down to show that Gerry has two left feet. He used to walk in circles when he was a kid.
  • Mockumentary: It is a Christopher Guest film, after all.
  • Never Heard That One Before:
    Buck: I couldn't get used to being probed and prodded. I told my proctologist once: "Why don't you take me out to dinner and a movie sometime?"
    Trevor: (unamused) Yes. I remember you said that last year.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The hotel manager (Ed Begley Jr.), when discussing the difficulties cleaning up after a dog show, mentions an unnamed rock band (probably a Spinal Tap reference). Details are sparse, and include only the comment that "they probably didn't realize there was a toilet in the room", as well as something about "roasting a goat," and how how hard it was to get the smell of charcoal and cumin out of the curtains.
    • Frequent un-elaborated-upon references to Cookie Fleck's past sexual history as she coincidentally encounters numerous former partners.
      "That was my first and only time doing it on a roller coaster!"
    • Scott and Stefan occasionally fall into this when hinting at their personal escapades.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Buck Laughlin bears more than a passing resemblance to Joe Garagiola, the baseball player-turned-announcer who provided commentary for the USA Network's coverage of the Westminster Kennel Club Show for many years.
    • Sherri Ann Cabot is obviously based on Anna Nicole Smith.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: At the end of the movie Sherri Ann and Christy get together and started "American Bitch", a magazine for "Lesbian Purebred Dog Owners".
  • Pet Contest Episode: The premise of the movie.
  • Really Gets Around: Cookie Fleck, before she married Gerry. To his suppressed but obvious frustration, they keep meeting her former partners wherever they go.
  • Running Gag: Many of them.
  • Serious Business: The Mayflower show is as serious as it gets.
    • The Swans, in particular, take the well-being of their dog Beatrice very seriously. At one point they're screaming vindictive to anyone in earshot while frantically searching for her favorite squeaky toy.
  • Smarmy Host: Buck Laughlin fits this trope to a T, complete with inappropriately unfunny jokes, rambling tangents, and zero understanding of the dog show he's supposed to be covering.
    Buck: "Excuse me if this off the subject a little bit, but just take a guess at how much I can bench press."
  • Spiritual Successor: To Guest's previous Mockumentary, Waiting for Guffman.
  • Too Much Information: Gerry is often subjected to this when one of Cookie's old boyfriends starts recounting their past amorous adventures.
  • Trophy Wife: Sherri Ann Cabot is a spoof example in the Gold Digger vein, and, unusually, is cheating with another woman, not a man.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: