Synopsis from Netflix: Mascots is a new comedy from Christopher Guest, director of Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show. Starring many of his regular troupe of actors, this latest film takes place in the ultra-competitive world of sports mascots where they compete for the most prestigious award in their field, the Gold Fluffy.
The Netflix original film stars Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Ed Begley, Jr., Christopher Moynihan, Don Lake, Brad Williams, Zach Woods, Chris O’Dowd, Susan Yeagley, Sarah Baker, Tom Bennett, Kerry Godliman, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, Michael Hitchcock, Maria Blasucci, John Michael Higgins, and Jim Piddock. The film was written by Christopher Guest & Jim Piddock and produced by Karen Murphy.
Mascots will launch globally on Netflix on October 13, 2016.
Review: A lot of Christopher Guest films have exactly the same set up. Best in Show, A Mighty Wind and now Mascots, for example, all feature a mad, lovely and desperately human group of characters getting together for some form of show or competition, Waiting for Guffman and For Your Consideration had those aspects as well. All filmed, of course, in the mockumentary style that he pioneered with Rob Reiner and his Spinal Tap colleagues 30 years ago.
Side note: Be aware that means that The Office, Modern Family, Parks & Rec, The Muppets etc. all owe Christopher Guest not just a debt of thanks but probably some actual hard cash. Ricky Gervais, for example, should just be handing all the awards and money to Guest.
That being said though, the other similar trait that, thankfully, all of Christopher Guest's movies and projects have (including Mascots) is that they are hilariously funny, full of wonderfully human characters, all of whom are passionate and trying their best but also letting greed, ego, nerves and sometimes lust get in their way and trip them up. What the group of people are doing (displaying their dogs, putting on a folk show or parading their sport mascots) is ultimately irrelevant, they're all just trying to have their moment, leave their mark and do something in life that they can be proud of.
Yet again Guest has assembled a winning ensemble of some of his regular players and newer additions like Chris O'Dowd (who worked with Guest once before in HBO's Family Tree), Kerri Godliman (from Gervais/Netflix show Derek) and Susan Yeagley (TV's Park & Rec) who we had the pleasure of talking to about comedy, working with Guest and starring in Mascots.
They make the constant improvisations look absolutely effortless and rather than striving every time for a joke or a button on a scene, they far more look for the human moments and work as a perfect ensemble - just like a good sports team, setting up shots and passing rather than just being fixated on scoring a goal every time.
The other skill involved in these movies is while it would be very easy to just relentlessly poke fun at the lunacy of the idea of mascots or having a mascots pageant. The comedy actually comes more from the back stage madness and the hilarity of pride, ego and self-importance. The actual mascot performances in the climax are treated as legitimate, fun theatre; by the time the final show comes around you're rooting for your favourites, amazed or enthralled with the persistence and passion of others and even saddened or nervous when it doesn't always go right for the people who might deserve it more. While you may have spent 70 minutes laughing at these folks, Guest and his cast have also performed the magic trick that, by the end, you care about them as well.
That's why as similar as Christopher Guest movies may be, the sheer level of skill, charm, talent and good will involved and generated by his work will make them exciting, funny and wonderful for years to come.