mascots

Netflix continues to churn out quality content with their newest venture Mascots, the latest uproarious comedy from Christopher Guest (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show). The film is presented in Guest’s iconic mockumentary, which has shot the format straight into the arteries of our entertainment zeitgeist. Television shows like The Office and Parks & Recreation can thank Guest for paving the way for them, if not in pure style, then in training audiences how to properly view a documentary that is anything but.

This is Guest’s first venture in 10 years. Audiences have eagerly awaited his next foray after 2006’s For Your Consideration, about awards season in Hollywood. Like all of his films, they are completely improvised. He gives his actors an extensive outline of the plot, but no dialogue, and lets them run free. This, of course, requires a certain kind of actor – one who is comfortable thinking on the fly. “Comedy is like music,” Guest has said, “You have to know the key and you have to find players with good chops.”

As such, Guest has developed a revolving troupe of talent that regularly make appearances in his acclaimed films, like Jane Lynch, Fred Willard, Parker Posey, Ed Begley Jr., Jennifer Coolidge, Bob Balaban, John Michael Higgins and others. Guest has also expanded his repertoire to include newbies such as Zach Woods, Sarah Baker, Chris O’Dowd, Susan Yeagley, Tom Bennett and Christopher Moynihan

Much like Best in Show, Mascots centers on an international mascots competition, where mascots from all over the world compete to win the gold in their under-appreciated field. From the organizers, coaches and judges to the competitors themselves, Guest has once again created a deliciously quirky world.

Among the standouts are newcomers Woods and Baker, who play a married couple whose mascots happen to be a team. If only their marriage was as stable as their routine, “We are doing the whole ‘don’t go to bed angry’ thing…so naturally, I’m exhausted,” Woods’ character explains with deadpan honestly. Their bickering steals many of the scenes throughout the film.

Guest regular Posey plays Cindy Babineaux whose mascot Alvin the Armadillo, is almost disqualified for being deemed “too offensive.” Posey finds a great moment through this absurdity as she breaks down crying in front of the judges. In this, we see the human drama that these misfits find in their tiny little subculture. This scene alone, a stroke of brilliance both in staging and performance, tugs at the audiences heartstrings through the shtick to make them love the characters. A talent that Guest has perfected over the years.

Mascots isn’t quite as great as Best in Show, which still stands as Guest’s best to date, but it’s great to have his hilarious films back in the mix.