Mascots (2016): A Mockumentary Too Far (Review)

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Co-written and directed by Christopher Guest (Jim Piddock was the other half of the writing team) Mascots is the last mockumentary from the man who wrote Best in Show and co-wrote This is Spinal Tap. However, delightful those two films were, this may well be a case of Guest going to the well once too often. 

Mascots also feels like a distant cousin to Characterz which also came out in 2016. Both films are about the people who inhabit the bits of felt and fur for an appreciative audience.  The latter dealt with a more nostalgic look at the wearing of the costume while the former deals with a contest.

In terms of comedy, Characterz comes out ahead of Guest’s effort and also has plot, which helps. Mascots is all over the place and tries too hard to be all things to all audiences.

Guest’s film follows the contestants in a Mascot competition. Following the mockumentary template, we are introduced to a number of quirky characters who are all competing for a Fluffy Award. Competitors come from as far afield as Croydon a borough of London.

Mascots stars a bevy of Guest regulars, like Parker Posey, Michael Hitchcock, Jane Lynch, Ed Begley Jr. and of course Jim Piddock.  With a budget said to be around $20 million the film looks as though it cost much less.

It is mildly amusing and has very few laugh out loud moments. The film is mainly a chuckle worthy affair with too many quirky characters to stand out.

Fans of Guest’s work may well find the film more enjoyable than most.  For anyone not over enamored of his mockumentary approach Mascots falls short. It may well be that the subject matter is that bit too esoteric for mainstream audiences.

This Netflix original is interesting and mildly amusing but not something that merits spending a full 89 minutes of viewing time.

In a nutshell, despite fine performances from Posey, Chris O’Dowd and a solid cameo from Fred Willard, Mascots falls far short of its intended mark.  Mildly amusing at best, the film fails to really tickle anyone’s funny bone too much. 

Mascots is filled with characters we care too little about.  Perhaps a few normal characters to offset the weird and wacky contestants and the competition organizers would have helped sell the comedy that bit better.

This is a wavering 3 star film. It is vaguely entertaining and interesting to watch but in no way does this deserve another viewing.  It is clever-ish and guilty of trying too hard. At the end of the film, the viewer will most likely sigh with relief rather than with satisfaction.

Mascots is streaming on Netflix, it is an “Original” production, and is worth a look, if only for the authenticity of the English contestants and their spot on dialogue. (This is clearly down to Piddock’s influence.)

Amusing rather than outrightly funny, there are worse ways to spend 89 minutes, the film is a reasonable alternative to funnier films, like True Memoirs of an International Assassin

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