"Mascots" is the latest mockumentary by Christopher Guest. It shares many similarities with his film "Best In Show," particularly the format of interviewing various contestants in a competition, following them as they travel, and chronicling the inevitable disasters that develop during the actual competition. The difference is that the dogs are swapped out in favor of absurd mascots from various countries and cultures. Many of the usual suspects from Guest's films are back including Bob Balaban, Jane Lynch, John Michael Higgins, Jennifer Coolidge, Parker Posey, Ed Begley Jr., and Fred Willard. A few of the characters (Mike Murray who is played by Zach Woods and Corky St. Claire who is played by Guest himself) were completely underutilized. Any fan of "The Office" loved Woods in the role of Gabe and when his interview opens the film, it opens our imaginations to the endless possibilities of awkwardness that he could achieve as a mascot. When he turns out to be a minor character in this ensemble cast, those possibilities became missed potential in my mind. Conversely, I understand that Corky St. Claire (the beloved character that Guest played in "Waiting for Guffman") was intended to be a cameo appearance. The issue is that this character is so hilarious that any inclusion smaller than a lead role was going to leave us wanting more. The most absurd character in the film is Tommy "The Fist" Zucarello, a stereotypical Irish boozer whose hot-headed personality/womanizing is perfect for a hockey mascot that is a giant fist. Chris O'Dowd brings the perfect attitude and grit to the role. The show-stealer is Tom Bennett as the legacy hedgehog mascot for a British soccer team. Amidst the chaos, he undergoes a coming-of-age experience that ties together this series of absurd vignettes. The mascots and corresponding personalities of each character are creative but don't gel together as well as the characters in many of Guest's other stories. I would definitely recommend "Mascots" for its entertainment value and unique story but, after fans of Christopher Guest mockumentaries have seen it once, they will likely leave it behind in favor of "Spinal Tap" and "Guffman" as their go-to dose of stupid humor.
[Pictured: Guest came up with a great variety of mascots, some believable but most absurd]