TIFF 2016: Mascots Review

Special Presentations 

Christopher Guest and company are back for the first time in 10 years in the new made-for-Netflix flick, Mascots. If you’ve seen any of this mockumentary trailblazer’s films before, you probably already have a good idea of what to expect from this new comedy that does for (or to) sports mascots what Best In Show did for competitive dog breeding.

Of course, many familiar faces return, including Jennifer Coolidge, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley, Jr., Don Lake, Parker Posey, Jane Lynch, and Fred Willard. Unfortunately some key players are missing, perhaps due to commitments on their TV shows – Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara with Schitt’s Creek and Michael McKean with Better Call Saul. You’d think that this troupe of actors would give Guest more than enough to work with, yet he continues to add to it with newcomers who end up with some of the film’s best moments. Tom Bennett (who had a breakout role earlier this year in Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship) brings a dry British wit, Zach Woods (Silicon Valley) and Sarah Baker (Louie) are great as bickering married mascots, and Chris O’Dowd is perfect as the hard living, scrappy hockey mascot “The Fist”.

Netflix continues to revive characters we love and thought we’d never see again with Christopher Guest making an appearance as Waiting For Guffman‘s Corky St. Clair, who of course is hilarious for every moment of his brief screen time. As you can see, there’s no shortage of talent here. Perhaps even too much. The film is so overstuffed with characters that it becomes unwieldy at times and you feel like you never get enough time with anyone, and yet much of the third act competition still feels like filler. With so many talented actors playing funny characters, it’s hard to imagine they couldn’t have stretched this into six half-hour episodes for Netflix.

Despite its many laughs, Mascots feels a little tame. The time spent showing the mascots’ acts implies a true appreciation of the silliness when we’d rather just get back to the jokes. It’s not Guest’s best work, but it’s a fun reunion and certainly better than 2006’s forgettable For Your Consideration.