When I wrote about the marketing campaign for Mascots, the latest movie from writer/director Christopher Guest, last month I said it looked to be very much in line with his previous movies, including Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind. While there are certainly loads of similarities and this latest feature retains the faux-documentary style of those others, there’s also more going on here than what we’ve seen from Guest previously.
The story is similar to Best In Show, following people from around the world who are preparing for a competition in Southern California to award the best mascot in the nation. So we follow the stories of a married couple who work for a minor league baseball team. An Irishman who is the self-proclaimed “bad boy” of the hockey mascot world. An enthusiastic modern dancer who dresses like an armadillo for a college’s team. They all come together for the final show, where all of their personal drama, struggles and issues reach their climax in hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking fashion.
While the story does follow the basic structure established in other Guest movies – introductions, scene setting, competition, epilogue – there’s more going on from a stylistic point of view here. Guest seems more willing to move the camera around than he has been and stage more establishing shots. There’s one scene in particular that’s teased in the trailer involving Michael Hitchcock, who plays the event manager, and Don Lake, who plays the event’s primary sponsor that is shot in a very traditional way, moving back and forth between the two actors as they give and take. That and more show Guest doing a bit more during production, not just editing, to move the story and action forward.
That all being said, what the movie retains is Guest’s incredible sense of humor. There are regular laughs and plenty to enjoy in between those as we get to know the cast of characters who are vying for the Golden Fluffy. There’s some that you need to watch through your fingers because it gets so awkward and uncomfortable. It’s all worth watching, though, and the limited campaign Netflix engaged in to promote it sold the most important parts accurately and fairly, so good on them.