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With: Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, Christopher Guest, Fred Willard, Ed Begley Jr., Christopher Moynihan, Don Lake, Zach Woods, Chris O'Dowd, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, Michael Hitchcock, John Michael Higgins, Jim Piddock, Susan Yeagley, Sarah Baker, Brad Williams, Matt Griesser, Maria Blasucci, Harry Shearer (voice)
Written by: Christopher Guest, Jim Piddock
Directed by: Christopher Guest
MPAA Rating:
Running Time: 89
Date: 10/13/2016

Mascots (2016)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Fur and Away

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Saturday Night Live alumnus Christopher Guest is best known for his "mockumentaries," beginning with his work as writer and performer in Rob Reiner's classic comedy This Is Spinal Tap, and then with his own directorial career, including Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind. The Netflix original Mascots (2016) is his latest, and one of his best.

It follows several sports team mascots in their giant costumes as they compete for the annual "Fluffy" awards. There's a giant fist (Chris O'Dowd), an armadillo (Parker Posey), a hedgehog (Tom Bennett), and more. In human form, there's Jane Lynch, Fred Willard, Ed Begley, Jr., Don Lake, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, Michael Hitchcock, and John Michael Higgins. The rumbling pipes of Harry Shearer can be heard announcing.

Zach Woods and Sarah Baker join Guest's usual cast of improv geniuses, and Guest himself reprises his Guffman role "Corky St. Clair," but the breakout discovery here is Susan Yeagley as Parker Posey's blonde, gum-chewing sister, an airhead southern belle with grown kids (and a grandchild), but with a genuine sweetness that still turns heads.

Mascots works where some of Guest's other films did not because of this type of honest affection that occasionally, surprisingly, rears its head; he manages not to make fun of these wackadoodle dreamers, and instead celebrates their delightful art. The movie may not be as hysterically funny as Guest's earlier work, but it's more consistently funny; the energy doesn't flag as the third-act competitions begin.

Some critics have been lazily dismissing this with the usual "it's not as good as his early work," etc., which is a commentary regularly reserved for filmmakers past a certain age. (Guest is now 68.) Let me just say that I respectfully disagree. Indeed, Mascots is perfect for Netflix, because it's one I'll be watching again.

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