There's no finer purveyor of the "mockumentary" than Christopher Guest, the director behind Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show (and, of course, known for his portrayal of Nigel Tufnel in Spinal Tap). Which is why the internet turned it up to 11 when it was announced in September his new film, Mascots, was coming to Netflix Oct. 13—and even though it's got a dead-center 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, its mixed reviews underscore that viewers maybe either love Guest's type of humor or they don't. Some POVs:
- Dan Kois acknowledges for Slate that Mascots wouldn't make it to the top of his Guest list, but he still says it's a "charmer that packs a sneaky punch." Although Kois laments the absence of Guest regulars Harry Shearer, Eugene Levy, and Catherine O'Hara, enough of the other usual suspects are around to make the movie earn points "in the most unlikely task of all: making us believe that mascotting is a job worth taking seriously."
- The movie gets a solid B-minus from Devan Coggan at Entertainment Weekly, earning praise for its "weird" mascots, still-effective "deadpan jokes," and "insane choreography" in the film's final competition, while receiving a demerit for never moving most of the characters much beyond "straight caricature." Seen and loved every Christopher Guest film? "You'll be in the stands cheering," Coggan writes. "Otherwise, Mascots feels like a bit of a retread."
- And "retread" seems to be how Owen Gleiberman would peg the film in his review for Variety, saying despite the "chuckles," it mainly "plays like a rerun of past comic glory." A major beef he has with the movie: There's none of that element of surprise, that outlandishness that used to exist when characters in past Guest movies would speak. "The movie is a little lazy," he notes. "It doesn't push its premise to the outer fringes of cracked fixation."
- Meanwhile, an "almost nonexistent" plot and "uneven" jokes are what's got Stephen Dalton yawning at the Hollywood Reporter, where he describes the movie as being "essentially Best in Show with humans instead of dogs." And he's another critic who, while lauding the return of Jane Lynch, Fred Willard, and Parker Posey (among other Guest veterans), missed Levy and O'Hara, whose "wild, dysfunctional energy might have added some much-needed spice to this lightweight farce."
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