5 Best Christopher Guest Movies
Christopher Guest is a comedian, first and foremost. After a few small parts in film and television and stage shows, Guest first broke through with This is Spinal Tap, a 1984 mockumentary directed by Rob Reiner and written by Reiner with Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer—who is best known for his work in The Simpsons. The is Spinal Tap satirizes the genre of rock band tour documentary and the way that the genre often lends itself to pretentiousness. The same year, Guest was a cast member on Saturday Night Live. After his one-year tenure at SNL was up, he returned to mainly filling small roles in a number of films but also released his directorial debut, a 1989 Hollywood satire starring Kevin Bacon called The Big Picture.
In the mid-1990s, he returned to the mockumentary comedy style of This is Spinal Tap, which has largely remained his niche since. His films tend to feature a handful of zany characters—often with the same relatively short list of comedy actors; including Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Jane Lynch, Harry Shearer, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, John Michael Higgins, Ed Begley, Jr. and his frequent co-writer Eugene Levy, as well as Guest himself. These zany characters are often set within drab, banal locales such as a small community theater or dog show. They are incredibly funny films because of Guest’s focus on improvisation as well as he and his cohorts’ incredible rapport and knack for comedic timing. It is hard to do justice to Guest’s work for those who have not seen it. His style sounds repetitive when put to paper because the devil is in the details—the performances are what define his films. Nonetheless, here is a list of his best work so far.
Best in Show (2000)
Best in Show is a mockumentary which follows five dogs entered in a dog show but more importantly their bizarre owners. Throughout the preparation process for the show, the audience is privy to their strange internal lives and the different ways their anxieties manifest through their respective dogs.
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A Mighty Wind (2003)
A Mighty Wind—like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show before it—is a mockumentary. It follows the former members of three folk bands who are preparing to reunite for a big concert event. They detail their lives since the end of the folk bands for the “documentarian”—most of them being strange and downright sad, but in a comedic way of course.
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Waiting for Guffman (1997)
Waiting for Guffman details a small community theater troupe and its strange director Corky St. Clair (Guest) with delusions of grandeur. They are preparing for a musical which details the history of their small town, which they intend to perform in front of a Broadway producer who the director knows. The film chronicles their process of rehearsing as well as gives the audience a glimpse of their mostly banal exterior lives.
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For Your Consideration (2006)
For Your Consideration is a bit of a departure for Guest, namely because it is not shot in his typical mockumentary style. However, it is still in his typical style of character work. The film details the cast and crew of a period melodrama who, as it is being produced, learn there is already sizeable award-season buzz about them. This spreading rumor causes the already-strange cast of characters to become even more delusional in their self-images, each of them obsessed with the idea of receiving award nominations.
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