TIFF: Mascots

Christopher Guest has long since held an esteemed spot in my heart and my DVD shelf for his improv-heavy mockumentaries. He wrote and starred in the grandfather of them all, Spinal Tap, but came on as director as well for his classics Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show, and A Mighty Wind. He’s poked fun at small town theatre, dog shows, and folk music, and after an agonizing decade-long hiatus, he’s back with Mascots.

As you  might guess, Mascots does indeed take on the little-explored world of mascotery: you know, the guys at football games dressed up in the big fuzzy suits, trying to get the spectators to cheer and do the wave. The fun is more images.jpgsincere than scathing, but no less amusing for its kindness. Christopher Guest’s body of work is so aligned with what I find funny that Mascots was my number 1 pick for TIFF, ahead of La La Land or Nocturnal Animals or Loving. I was delighted to be able to attend the world premiere, but somewhere in a secret place down near my toes I was worried that perhaps his latest just wouldn’t measure up. With a ten year break, would the chemistry still be there?

I needn’t have worried. Biiiiiiiig sigh of relief. It’s funny! So funny I’m in immediate need of a re-watch. The laughs from one joke often drowned out the next – and what a pleasant problem to have! Mascots is vintage Guest, and he’s got a lot of the old troupe assembled for more.

Jane Lynch, Ed Begley Jr, and Don Lake play judges at this year’s Golden Fluffy awards. They’re former mascots themselves and are pleased to judge this year’s finalists in a cut-throat competition. Chris O’Dowd is “The Fist,” hockey’s bad-boy mascot. Parker Posey is a dancing armadillo. Tom Bennett is a football club badger. Christopher Moynihan is a plush Plumber. It sounds absurd and it absolutely is, but that’s what has always worked so well in Guest’s movies: he takes a hobby that exists on the fringes and is practiced mascotswith total obsessiveness, and he shows us the incredible underbelly. It’s fascinating. Like a car wreck or a wonky boob job, you can’t help but stare.

In the case of Mascots, Guest seems to take a particular interest in the proceedings, giving ample screen time to the “performances.” This is way more earnest than we’re used to seeing from him, but it works, largely because the actors commit with such deadpan abandon. It takes a lot of guts to make a movie the way Guest does – he doesn’t know what he’ll end up with until the camera stops rolling and he starts cutting in the editing room. He relies on a deep pool of talent – too deep, as most only get to shine for a line or two. I want more Balaban, more Willard. And definitely more Corky St. Clair, a role Guest reprises from Waiting for Guffman. If we can’t have it all, though, Guest and company still give us a pretty fair shake. I left the theatre with rosy cheeks and a bounce in my bottom.

The good news is that just two films into my Toronto International Film Festival experience, I’d already found a film to love. The even better news: you’ll love it too, and soon – it’ll be out on Netflix October 13th.

29 thoughts on “TIFF: Mascots

  1. Bun Karyudo

    That sounds hilarious. I’ve liked Christopher Guess from way back. “This is Spinal Tap” was a favorite with everyone during my student days. It’s amazing the number of times even today, I’ll hear someone say, “But this one goes up to eleven!” 🙂


  2. fragglerocking

    not seen any of his!! don’t have Netflix, though we should have because our smart TV says we have, but we are dimmer than the smart TV so probably will never find it. Love that this movie gave you a bouncy bottom after your leaky face experience.


    1. Jay Post author

      Netflix is subscription-based, so you’d have to sign up and pay for a password before it’d work, I’d bet.
      It’s got plenty of old stuff on there, adds new stuff monthly, and also offers this made-for-Netflix stuff exclusively. Their TV programming has been strongest but their movies are catching up.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jay Post author

    Christopher Guest, Jane Lynch & Parker Posey talk about what it’s like to work with the same group of actors in their various mockumentaries.


  4. Jay Post author

    Director Christopher Guest discusses the special challenges faced by dp Kris Kachikis on their improv-heavy, non-rehearsed, hand-held shoots.


  5. Jay Post author

    Jane Lynch: [My school mascot was] the Thornridge Falcon. I think it was a girl, and it wasn’t silly looking. I remember it being quite aesthetically pleasing… Not like my Minnie the Moose [in the film]. I look like a fluffy.


  6. Pingback: Cool Shit on Netflix | ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

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