Christopher Guest’s ‘Mascots’ lacks much-needed cheer
It should be a match made in comedy heaven - director and writer Christopher Guest, whose fake documentary films explore the sad desperation in American subcultures, turns his attention to the wacky world of sports mascots.
But this time, heaven is missed by quite a lot.
“Mascots,” which premiered on Netflix Thursday, relies on the same formula that gave us deadpan looks at life behind the scenes at folk music bands, community theater productions and dog shows but lacks the spark of Guest’s previous films.
In the film, the lovable weirdos under the microscope are a motley group of sad, delusional losers who arrive at the World Mascot Association Awards in hopes of winning the top prize, the Gold Fluffy.
There’s a bickering couple (Zach Woods and Sarah Baker); a nerdish sweetheart of a guy who always sees the glass as half-full (Christopher Moynihan); an Englishman (Tom Bennett) who is carrying on a family tradition; a devoted modern dancer (Parker Posey) who performs as an armadillo; and the bad-boy of mascoting (Chris O’Dowd).
The first half of the film introduces the characters with interviews that reveal their sad yearnings and petty resentments. The second half follows their awards-show performances, like an episode of “Glee.”
It’s hard to pin down exactly what has gone flat with this film. There’s no pep.
In previous films, Guest’s actors somehow stammered their way into grace, but here the script is a little too heavy with bodily functions - vomiting, yeast infections, even toilet waste.
There are some bright spots, notably the excellent Irish actor O’Dowd as the brutish mascot The Fist and Susan Yeagley playing the half-sister of Posey’s character beautifully, almost as if she was in another movie. Lynch, as a brittle judge, is perfect, as always. But Guest is not at his best here.
The film tries to get us amped up, but there’s a deep hollowness under the funny suit.