Best in Show (2000)

Chris Guest + Will Ferrell = Happy Phyllis

Will Ferrell and Christopher Guest are arguably the two funniest men not named Howie Mandel currently walking the planet. While Guest acts in his films, his strength is as a director and screenwriter. Essentially his formula is to pick a broad scenario to satirize in faux documentary form -- say, a rock band or dog show -- then put a seasoned, familiar cast through hours and hours of largely improvisational footage, which he cuts and pastes into a 90-minute film.

Ferrell and his collaborators construct their films in a similar vein, only theirs aren't as rigidly improvisational and are therefore dumber. That's not a slam: The vast majority of Americans aren't smart enough to pick up on the nuances of Guest's mockumentaries. Most folks are barely capable of absorbing the likes of Anchorman or Old School, which in anyone else's paws would range from incredibly stupid to downright unbearable. In Ferrell's hands, however, this would-be dreck is generally hilarious.

Guest typically casts the same troupe of players, many of whom are SCTV vets. The stalwarts in Best in Show: Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard, John Michael Higgins and Guest himself (as a Southern-fried bloodhound owner/ventriloquist). But as near-perfect as this film was, Phyllis couldn't help but think how spectacular Will Ferrell would have been in the role of Parker Posey's husband, an ultra-intense, turtleneck sweater-wearing, chai latte-swilling yuppie named Hamilton Swan. Michael Hitchock is just fine, but Ferrell would have knocked it out of the park.

So, howzabout casting Ferrell in Guest's next project? The latter's 2003 folkie spoof A Mighty Wind was a bit of a letdown, and Ferrell would do well to dip into headier fare after the critical skewering of Kicking & Screaming. It's a match made in heaven!

Each week the author treks to the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library, where a staff member blindfolds him and escorts him to the movie shelves. After selecting a film at random, Seely checks it out and reviews it.

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