The “Christopher Guest movie” has become a genre unto itself. His films, obviously nodding to his appearance in Rob Reiner’s 1984 comedy classic This is Spinal Tap, are made in a documentary style, and are largely improvised by a talented cast of mostly regulars. The characters are typically quirky, most often neurotic, but always passionate. Guest’s formula has (more often than not) worked over the course of four movies and an HBO mini-series. Now he brings his talents to the anything-goes environment of Netflix with the new film Mascots.
Mascots is set around the fictional (as far as we know) Fluffy awards, given by the World Mascot Association. Mascots come from around the world to compete for the prestigious award, and the fame and notoriety that come with being an award-winning mascot. Save for Guest regular Parker Posey, most of the mascots are newcomers to Guest’s cinematic universe, and all of them fit in perfectly among Posey and other Guest contract players. There are a few familiar faces, such as Zach Woods (The Office} as half of a dysfunctional husband-and-wife team, and Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids) as a temperamental hockey mascot known as The Fist. The supporting roles are filled by Guest favorites like Jane Lynch, Fred Willard and Ed Begley Jr. doing what they do best. While bigger names like Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara are missing (and missed), the hilarious cast brings it from top to bottom.
Mascots is one of Guest’s funniest movies to date, but it’s hard to call it one of his best. His early films, like the beloved Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show and the underrated A Mighty Wind, were as big on heart as they were on laughs. You laughed hysterically at the characters while caring about their individual plights and even rooting for them. With the exception of Tom Bennett’s Sid the Hedgehog, the characters’ narratives lack the effortless awkward sweetness of the earlier films. The laughs are hearty and plentiful enough to distract from that, but only for a little while.
|Let's make sweet love in our costumes.|
There’s still a lot for Christopher Guest fans to love about Mascots. There are more than enough of the hilarious, did-I-just-see-that moments that Guest’s films are known for, with a bit of the added spice that comes with the freedom Netflix provides. The freshman and veteran actors mesh brilliantly into a talented ensemble that plays off of and elevates each other flawlessly. While one might wish for more of the genuine emotion that made Guffman and Best in Show great, Mascots still manages to be raucously funny and a whole lot of fun. Mascots is (almost) anything you could ask for from a Christopher Guest movie.